Helping kids with inclusion and diversity
Diversity and inclusion in the home, school and even toy box are so important. All kids want to see themselves reflected in the environment and toys that they play with. Childhood really should be an inclusive place where everyone belongs.
Being different from most others doesn’t need to be a dis - ability but rather a diff - ability and I’m happy to finally see the toy industry and other companies starting to embrace change and positively represent the 150 plus million kids with disability and difference world wide.
Even campaigns from large stores are starting to include people of all races, sizes and special needs in their advertising and catalogues.
I’ve got to be honest – this really wasn’t on my radar until we adopted our children from an overseas country. Of course being from Taiwan they are Asian looking and we are not, so we all stand out like a sore thumb in public. We are used to the looks of interest that come our way. What I wasn’t ready for though was the white washing from our society in films and most cultural events .. It is SO hard to find Asian examples in our society on the TV, in catalogues or anywhere really. Even Hollywood prefers to stick Asians into a stereotype (but that’s a whole other blog on cultural marginalization isn’t it).
Basically it boils down to the fact that we are a hugely multicultural society with people from all places on the earth and children and people with all types of special needs or diff - ability .
If you stop for a moment and have a think about what it must be like for a child with hearing aid , a wheel chair, dark skin, etc. and very rarely seeing anyone that looks like you , positively reflected in toys, book , tv and film you can see how it can lead to a real sense of isolation and low self esteem.
Positive representation really matters to kids (and let’s be honest… grownups too!). When kids have toys that look like them or more importantly they are included in able bodied and everyday Australian toy boxes at school or home all kids benefit – because seriously – If we leave these differences out of our toy box what does this teach kids in real life? That it’s ok to exclude?
Here at Lime Tree Kids we definitely believe that ALL children will benefit from incidental use of these toys. Let’s help normalise disability, special needs or families and people of any colour, size or family structure. Drop stereotypes – its why I started this company actually.
When we were going through intensive play therapy with our son, anything related to “special needs kids” was plastic, ugly and well, clearly meant for “special needs kids”. The toys were all stereotyped for kids that were different – as if they didn’t want to touch real wooden toys, smell and feel different textures or materials in their play. I’m REALLY passionate about this - everything we stock play wise here at Lime Tree Kids is generally got an alternative therapy based use – it’s something I’m passionate about and will be sharing more of this year with you. We don’t advertise it a lot because it comes back to normalizing diff - ability for what it really is - part of the natural spectrum in human life .
Here’s a few ideas on what to include in your Toy Boxes at Home or school to help assist with inclusion