“No child should ever feel as if they aren’t ‘normal’ or as if they don’t belong,” she says
Inclusivity is incredibly important, especially for children. In recent years we have been seeing so many people going out of their way to make every child – regardless of gender identity, race, health condition or physical impairment – feel represented. We have seen the impact that simply proving children with toys that look like them can have on them. Genderless Barbie dolls, knit dolls with alopecia skin patches, American Girl dolls with no hair and Lego figures with wheel chairs are just a handful of examples of inclusivity in toys.
However, one teacher for deaf/hard of hearing kids noticed that her students weren’t being represented in the toys they played with. Instead of campaigning toy companies to make hearing impaired dolls, she took it into her own hands (literally) and made them herself.
Using what appears to be puffy paint, California teacher Genesis Politron painted the hearing devices on the babies in sparkly and bright colors. It probably took just minutes but the impact it made on her students was apparently profound.
“I teach preschool and kindergarten for Deaf/Hard of Hearing kids, and my students never see toys that resemble their hearing devices (Hearing Aids/Cochlear Implants), so I added some to our new baby dolls on my own,” she wrote in a tweet that has since gone viral. “I wish everyone could see their faces playing with these.”
She told Scary Mommy that she was ultimately inspired to create the dolls to empower her students. “Being an educator, it’s my job to be as inclusive as possible, but really, I believe it should just be part of being a human being. No child should ever feel as if they aren’t ‘normal’ or as if they don’t belong,” she explained. “I wanted to allow my students to see themselves in toys for once, to feel accepted, and overall be able to have fun playing with toys that look just like them. As an educator for the Deaf, I want my students to be proud of such a special part of their identity. Children’s minds are extremely malleable, and I believe it’s our jobs as adults to mold them into empowered, confident, and most importantly happy little people as best as we can.”
The response to her dolls on social media was overwhelming, to say the least. Some people shared their own personal stories about how having dolls that reflected their condition was a game-changer, or how it could have been.
It would have helped kids like me, who had never encountered anyone with the hearing aid under the age of 60, understand it better as well.— Hayley (@Dpressed_muffin) September 29, 2019
Many people also offered other suggestions on where to find inclusive dolls, including American Girl who offers a hearing aid customization on their dolls.
This is the sweetest thing ever!!!! My friend has two deaf daughters and she got them custom American Girl dolls with hearing aids... to see their faces light up was priceless!— joanna (@jojoboocakes) September 28, 2019
Nice job teach!!! You’re a hero!
I love this!! If anyone is looking to get a doll w prosthetics, casts, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, etc, check out https://t.co/hOQEk7iTFJ!— april (@theaprilweasley) September 29, 2019
They sell dolls with hearing aids!! Seen em at Walmart! They look like the All American dolls!! ❤️— z (@_Zairrion) September 28, 2019
And of course, many just pointed out how awesome she was.
Omg I love this!!!! You are awesome! ❤️— ❄ (@MissVeeh) September 27, 2019
I’m crying at the bar now thank u in the most un-sarcastic way— sloush (@7ouSkrew) September 28, 2019
This story is such an important reminder of just how much inclusivity matters — especially for children. And, as this teacher proved, making everyone feel like they belong doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive either.