Mom enhances her daughter’s Elf on the Shelf to better represent disabled folks
For Christmas, awesome Arizona mom Samantha Lackey decided to create an inclusive Elf on the Shelf after looking around and seeing a lack of representation for people with disabilities in well, lots of areas, including toys. Lackey’s 2-year-old daughter Stella was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a genetic disease that affects her motor function, and now Stella’s Elf of the Shelf pal (his name is Bean the Elf) doesn’t just sit on the shelf like all the other Elves, Bean scoots around the house in a bright purple wheelchair just like Stella does.
Lackey created Bean the inclusive elf late last month just in time for the holidays.
“Representation is seriously lacking when it comes to disability and it’s something we’ve always been very passionate about,” Lackey tells Scary Mommy about her decision to enhance her daughter’s Elf on the Shelf to better represent Stella’s life.
“I had the privilege of having an American Girl doll that not only looked like me but had the same name and I remember that being SO cool growing up,” Lackey tell us. “It was a no-brainer for me to make elf on the shelf inclusive for Stella.”
Per ABC News, Stella was diagnosed with SMA as a 1-month-old and began using a wheelchair at 9 months old. So, Bean the Elf uses a purple wheelchair too and uses pink ankle-foot orthoses, just like Stella. Bean also eats with the help of a nasogastric tube, which carries food and medicine to the stomach through the nose.
“Disabled people make up the largest minority group in the world. But typically you only hear and see sad stories,” Lackey tells us. “When really, disability is normal and nothing to be pitied. After my first Instagram Reel featuring Bean the Elf took off I really wanted to push that conversation and encourage parents to talk to their kids about inclusion!”
Lackey expanded on the importance of toys like Bean the elf in an important Instagram post shared earlier this month.
“Did you know the disabled community makes up 25% of the world’s population? Making it the largest minority group in the world AND one that you can join at any point in your life,” Lackey wrote. “We’ve learned how important representation is to raising a daughter with a disability. We’ve also seen how immensely UNDER represented disability really is in our lives. REAL disability, not Drake in a wheelchair. We, as allies need to do better for the generations we’re raising. Normalize disability. Have conversations.”
This doll is more than just an Elf that uses a wheelchair.
Or as Lackey puts it, “Sure, Elf on the Shelf is a silly little tradition I’m starting with my daughter but I really hope it sparks some conversations.”
Well said and well made. We hope Bean the Elf also sparks a generation to do better when it comes to representing disability.