Wonderfully, people are diverse and not everyone looks like Barbie and Ken – that would be boring and totally devoid of inclusivity. Noticing a lack of diversity in children’s toys, one woman from Wisconsin in the United States began making custom-made dolls for children who need representation. Amy Jandrisevits, formerly a social worker in a paediatric oncology unit, once practised play therapy with dolls to assist children during their medical stays.
It was her time spent in the unit that led to the realisation that the dolls she was using represented the picture of health and the generalised idea of perfection – they didn’t represent or reflect what most children actually look like.
So, she decided to do something to change the way children think. She started making non traditional Raggedy Ann dolls.
When parents started to hear about what she was doing, they started making requests to suit the differences that made their children special.
Doll making has become Amy’s mission and she does it under the name “A Doll Like Me”. She’s about to make 300 dolls in that time and her wait list always have names.Every doll is close to $100 however, Ms Jandrisevits isn’t the kind of woman to deny a child a lookalike doll on the basis of their parents being unable to afford one.
Almost four years ago she created a GoFundMe page to provide dolls to children in need and was recently awarded the GoFundMe Hero award for her work. In addition to paying for the material and shipping costs of the dolls, the funds she connects will turn A Doll Like Me into an official non-profit organization.At this point, she has already partnered with a children’s hospital to identify kids who could benefit from a doll they can truly call their own.
And it seems as though people are really responding to her mission, as she has already raised almost $23,000 of her $25,000 goal Her ultimate goal is to do this without needing families to pay for something so essential for their kids’ well-being. As Amy put it, “If we’re going to look at mental health as a necessary part of medical care, this is key. If you want validation and play therapy, you need these dolls.”
Those with limb differences, clef pallets, albinism, birthmarks and all kinds of unique abnormalities can now have a doll that makes them feel included and accepted thanks to her passion project.
Ms Jandrisevits has shared her belief that children are incredibly impressionable with her social media fans and explains teaching children that “normal” comes in all shapes and sizes is important.
Amy’s page A Doll Like Me is growing in size and garnering positive attention from people all over the world.With 7600 thousand likes on Facebook and just over 1000 follows on Instagram, it’s fantastic to see her gaining support and traction for a cause truly wholesome.
As Amy said in a post, there’s a story behind each one of these dolls, but she generally prefers to let the pictures tell it themselves. But some stories have enough going on behind them that Amy does fill us in.
In this case, this boy’s dad is a cop, so Amy asked two police officers to let her take some pictures with his doll in their squad car. Not only did they agree, but they also sent the boy some Green Bay Packer trading cards and a little, toy police dog.