Video: "A doll like me": A volunteer sews unique dolls for children with disabilities
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
When Amy worked as a social worker in a hospital helping children with cancer psychologically cope with the current situation, she noticed how much children are attached to their dolls. But at the same time, only a few could say about their doll that it looked like themselves. The children saw that they were different from everyone around them, and this only made them sadder. So Amy started sewing dolls herself.
“My daughter has blonde hair and blue eyes, so no matter where we go to the store, she can always say, 'Oh, this doll is just like me!” Says Amy Jandrisevits. "But at the same time, so many children - and I was working with children with oncology then - would never have been able to see someone at least somehow similar to them on the store shelf."
Amy noticed that even her youngest daughter, who was only 3 years old, sometimes watches Disney cartoons with envy, because she realizes that she is not at all like them. For girls, even at an early age, self-identification occurs precisely through comparing themselves with others. “There was an image in her head that such a princess is how she should look,” says Amy. "Now imagine that this is not just a difference in hair color, and the child does not have an arm or a leg … Think about what is happening in the head of a child who is physically different from the rest."
That is why Amy started making soft dolls. Each doll is an individual order, because Amy tries to create it similar to her future owner. This is how toys with prostheses, moles, and albino dolls appear. “It seems to me that my dolls help to create an atmosphere in which the child sees that he is not alone, that his differences are not injuries, but peculiarities. In fact, to be honest, our society has a terrible situation with the variety of dolls."
Amy admits that such dolls are most often ordered by parents for their daughters, as girls are more likely to judge themselves by comparing them with other people. This is not always only about young children - Amy fondly recalls the video sent to her by the parents of a 14-year-old girl with a hand injury. When the girl opened the box and saw a doll with exactly the same physical characteristics as her own, she instantly burst into tears and ran to hug her mother. “If people ask me what my dolls are for, I suggest they watch this video,” says Amy.
This project, which was later named "A doll like me" (Doll like me), began four years ago when Amy was asked to sew a doll for a girl who had just had her leg amputated. Amy always made dolls - but it was just a hobby. Amy immediately agreed, and at the same time searched the Internet for who else had made such orders. It turned out that no one at all.
Then someone in the hospital saw a doll that Amy had sewn, and she received a call from two more families, each of whom had daughters with some disabilities. With just word of mouth, Amy had 200 orders in two months. "It was all very unexpected, but it shows how much people need it."
In order not to take money from her parents for these dolls, Amy turned to the GoFundMe crowdfunding platform with a request to help pay for the necessary materials to sew dolls, and most importantly - to send them, since orders come from all over the world, including from South Africa and Egypt.“Over the past 4 years, Amy has personally made more than 300 dolls, and orders are still appearing on her list,” Heidi Hagberg says of Presenting Platforms. “Through our platform, she is trying to raise funds so that these dolls are completely free for families where children really need them.”
In December 2018, Amy was named a GoFundMe Hero, which allows her to support “people who make a difference and inspire others” through this organization. And despite the huge amount of work, Amy continues to make dolls. “That video of a 14 year old girl inspires me. I have seen him hundreds of times already, and every time I have tears welling up."
We talked about how the creators of Barbie are trying to make their dolls "closer to people" in our article. "New forms of Barbie".
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