The team at learning toy company Click-A-Brick have heaped praise on a Kickstarter initiative that is meant to introduce more diversity into the toy aisle by creating dolls of girls with different ethnic backgrounds. In addition to the dolls having varied backgrounds, they will be used to teach girls of color proper hair care, as there are few toys on the market that represent colored hair styles.
Started by college student Yelitsa Jean-Charles, Healthy Roots aims to make and distribute dolls of four girls of color who have different backgrounds and different interests: Zoe, an African-American bookworm; Dara, a Nigerian website coder; Gaiana, a Haitian musician and Marinda, an Afro-Brazilian science and sports lover. With each doll will come a book teaching girls how to care for and style their hair in a variety of ways.
"It's time to bring TRUE diversity to the toy aisle," Jean-Charles writes on the Healthy Roots Kickstarter page. “Healthy Roots teaches girls of color self-love through education, diversity, and positive representation."
Healthy Roots is following on the heels of other attempts to create more diversity among toys, including Mixis’ “Toy Like Me" dolls, which feature dolls with hearing aids, burns scars, and other characteristics that don’t normally show up on dolls; Lammily, which is a doll with more realistic proportions than Barbie and that allows kids to add perceived imperfections like acne, stretch marks, and cellulite; the anti-Barbie hippy doll Feral Cheryl and Prettie Girls!, which includes dolls from South Asian, African, and various other cultures.
Click-A-Brick Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say they appreciate that Healthy Roots aims to introduce more diversity into the toy landscape and that these dolls can be considered a learning toy.
“What Yelitsa is doing is great for children of color,” Smith said. “They are underrepresented in the toy aisle and these dolls will help to change that. They can also be considered an educational toy because, as Yelitsa herself says, they teach kids to love who they are as well as teaching them about caring for their own kind of hair. When we hear ‘educational toy’ we tend to think of something that teaches the science, technology, engineering and math skills like building blocks such as Click-A-Brick. But, a toy that teaches any useful skill is educational in nature, so we definitely think Healthy Roots dolls fit that bill.”
The Click-A-Brick crew also says the Healthy Roots dolls once again illustrate that it’s up to the independent toy companies to drive innovation in the toy industry.
“We never cease to be amazed at what toy companies can come up with when the first goal is making a positive difference in the world rather than just making a profit,” de Gorostiza, who also acts as Click-A-Brick’s Brand Manager, said. “They’re not afraid to fill those niches where products may not necessarily be huge sellers, but are really needed.”
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