Day after day I am inspired by how quickly our world is changing. As an amputee, I feel grateful to live in a time where my metal ankle is mostly seen as cool and intriguing. I will never tire of the little people who squat behind me in line at the grocery store, intent on studying my interesting metal leg. I know what it feels like to feel different.
I am also the mother to four children, and my tender heart goes out to those who feel different, but not always in a good way. Our family has known several children with Down Syndrome and their path is not usually an easy one.
This is why I was more than thrilled to find the story I want to share with you. Connie Feda was frustrated, as her daughter Hannah, who happens to have Down Syndrome, realized she’d never play with a doll who actually looked like her. The toy store shelves are finally adding dolls of mixed ethnicities, but there were no dolls who had Down Syndrome, and it’s defining features (flattened facial features, slightly slanted eyes, a crease on their palms). Connie Feda decided it was time that changed.
She dove into creating a doll that looked like Hannah. And as the word spread, she found that she wasn’t the only one who wanted a Down Syndrome doll. Dolls for Downs was born. Through pre-orders, Connie was able to create many more versions of the doll, so that not only could a child have a doll that also had Down Syndrome, they could have a doll that looked very much like them – with their hair and eye color.
The dolls have their own facebook page and will be available to ship on May 1st, at a price of $75. The website DollsforDowns.org has some great resources, including a list of what Down Syndrome is, and what Down Syndrome is NOT.
It’s been a whirlwind for the Feda family since the project was started, but one of the most touching moments came when a letter from a new fan made Connie weep. It was from a first grader who did not have Down Syndrome, but instead had a friend with it. Her goal was to finally have a doll in her own collection, one that looked like her friend.
Our world is changing. In bad ways, but also in very, very good ways. It’s time for little girls and boys to have a doll who represents a demographic that’s always been there, just rarely represented. It’s time Hannah, and millions of other kids, to have a doll that smiles back at them with beautiful slanted eyes.