It doesn’t matter who we are, we all want to fit in with others. For a child with disabilities, however, that may be a fleeting opportunity. The world just doesn’t seem to squeeze them into their mold, and that also includes the toys that they use.
A former social worker, Amy Jandrisevits understands the need for children to see differences reflected in what they play with, including dolls. That is why Amy was inspired to create ‘Dolls Like Me’.
“In my time working with the kids, I used dolls in play therapy to help the children express themselves,” Amy said. “It’s hard to tell a child that they are beautiful but follow it with – but you’ll never see yourself in anything that looks like you.”
She began by making nontraditional Raggedy Ann dolls for children who had a disability. Each is made by hand so it is perfect for every child it is made for. It matches their physical characteristics along with their ethnicity and their medical problems.
The cost about $100 to make and ship one of these dolls but Amy will cover the cost through money raised in a GoFundMe campaign. She is also working along with a Children’s Hospital to provide more children with dolls for comfort as they get specialized medical care.
Amy has a goal of eventually being able to get the dolls out for free. “If we’re going to look at mental health as a necessary part of medical care, this is key.”
She has made more than 300 dolls so far. She was even selected as GoFundMe’s Hero of December
“It is an honor to be recognized for what is my labor of love AND it is awesome that other people believe in the power of representation,” Amy wrote. “On the one side, dolls are validating for the little people they reflect. And on the other side, dolls are a tangible way to share kindness and demonstrate acceptance. These children are perfect just the way they are!”
We appreciate all that she’s done to help children celebrate their differences. You can see the joy on their smiling faces.
You can watch one girl open a doll in this video