All children should have toys that reflect individuals with disabilities, Michigan mom says

A woman from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is encouraging all parents to buy books and toys that reflect disabled children this holiday season and thereafter.

Lindsay Filcik, whose 2-year-old daughter lives with Down syndrome, gained attention online when she posted a series of images and a powerful message about the importance of representation on social media.

“Every single human being deserves to see somebody who looks like them in movies, books, commercials and toys. Unfortunately, for far too long that has not been the case,” she wrote. “People of all races, abilities, body types, genders, religions, etc. need to be represented in what we watch, read and play with. Recently we are seeing steps to remedy this problem in the media and I appreciate that! Representation matters!”

“Imagine being a child with a disability and all you ever see are typical, able bodied children,” she continued. “What message does that send you about yourself? That you are ‘abnormal.’ That you are not worthy of being shown to the world ... Lack of representation also hurts those children who are represented. They grow up with the incredibly skewed perception that everybody looks like them. And anybody who doesn’t isn’t ‘normal’ and should be feared. That, my friends, is how racism and ableism can be perpetuated in our kids without us even realizing it.”

Filcik encouraged parents to “let brands know you appreciate their inclusivity” by shopping with companies that are intentional about portraying diverse individuals and that provide inclusive products, including dolls that demonstrate disabilities, such as ones that reflect various physical features and come with wheelchairs or other accessories.

Less than two weeks after Filcik’s post was first published, she said many people have responded positively to her message.

“Several parents of children who don’t have disabilities told me they are adding a doll with a disability to their kids’ Christmas lists,” she told “Good Morning America.” “They had just never thought of it before.”

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