Thursday, February 5, 2015

Disability is part of their doll's story

By Louise Kinross

In January I wrote about Melissa Shang, a girl who at age 10 got 150,000 people to sign a petition asking American Girl to release a doll with a disability. Melissa has a form of muscular dystrophy. The company hasn't.

Then I heard from the Pots family in St. Catharines, outside Toronto. Pictured above are Emily, Sophia, Rachel and Janneke. Rachel and Janneke both use wheelchairs now and have global developmental delay with no diagnosis.

Their mom Sara sent me a photo (below) of an American Girl doll that Emily and Sophie had adapted to reflect their family's experience. They purchased the wheelchair from American Girl. But "the hand splint, g-tube, tinted glasses (for vision clarity) and ankle-foot orthoses were modified by 'Pot Home Health Supplies,'" Sara says, aka Emily and Sophia. "My kids get more satisfaction out of making the pieces.

"From the very beginning Emily and Sophia insisted we save money for Rachel and Janneke to have a doll in a wheelchair," Sara says. "As they began to visit the American Girl stores and website, they were frustrated to see there were little to no props for girls with disability. What I love about that frustration is that it comes from their own hearts. My hope is that they will continue to see places and things that need representation of all, not just in the doll world, but beyond."

Do your kids adapt their dolls in this way? Please send your pics to and we'll share them. 

Photo by Elma Regnerus