Miniland, a toy company, believes that representation in toys is the best way to normalize Down syndrome and help children with the condition feel less alone.
Growing up, if you saw yourself represented accurately in the toys you played with, count yourself lucky. Some of us, unfortunately, never had the opportunity to see someone like us on TV, in movies, or through the toys we owned. However, slowly but surely, things are changing. A range of dolls from the toy company Miniland is helping young children with Down syndrome feel represented. By developing dolls that have the same features as those with the condition, such as almond-shaped eyes, the firm is making representation, diversity, and inclusion a top priority. Now, kids across the country can finally feel seen.
Miniland's dolls, made in Spain, are designed with "well-defined features." This makes it easy for young children to identify the dolls that look like them. In addition to dolls that represent children with Down syndrome, the company also creates dolls that are representative of diverse races. The dolls first went viral on social media, when pictures of the toys popped up on Facebook and Instagram during October, which is when Down Syndrome Awareness Month is celebrated all across the world.
At present, the dolls are available on Target. The product description reveals, "The legs, arms, and heads of each doll move to allow for realistic movements. Promote values of acceptance, equality, and integration within your learning center. Through play with others, children develop language and social skills." This goes to show that the dolls are not just meant for those with Down syndrome themselves. Even children who do not have the condition can play with these dolls, normalizing Down syndrome and helping them make friends with a diverse group of people. All the dolls are 40 centimeters in length, have different hair colors, and come dressed in the cutest matching set of clothing.
On their website, Miniland explains that their purpose is to "uncover a world of experiences in learning and play in future generations that innately encourages all their potential." The company also produces "edutainment" toys, but their core principles remain the same: "to grow together by enjoying the journey, so that each child grows and shines with his or her own light." At the heart of all their projects are care, fun, and expertise. Additionally, Miniland states that they strongly believe in Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, according to which intelligence in children is not a single, static quality. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that a firm with such values would launch such a powerful tool for representation.