Prime Minister Theresa May praises Norwich woman for disability toy campaign

Rebecca Atkinson. Photo:

Rebecca Atkinson. Photo:

A Barbie fitted with running blades and Olaf the snowman wearing a hearing aid may not seem like typical children’s toys.

#ToyLikeMe exhibiton at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: #ToyLikeMe/BethMoseleyPhotography #ToyLikeMe exhibiton at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: #ToyLikeMe/BethMoseleyPhotography

But their creation by Rebecca Atkinson from Norwich has helped encourage the global toy industry to represent disabled children in their products.

Now, her work has been officially recognised by prime minister Theresa May, who has today awarded her with a Points of Light award.

Ms Atkinson’s #ToysLikeMe campaign was launched in 2015 and saw her give popular toys a makeover to give them disabilities.

The models were put online and went viral.

#ToyLikeMe exhibiton at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: #ToyLikeMe/BethMoseleyPhotography #ToyLikeMe exhibiton at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: #ToyLikeMe/BethMoseleyPhotography

She also launched a petition calling on the company Playmobil to produce the figures created through her campaign, gaining 50,000 signatures in a week.

In January 2016 Lego unveiled its first-ever wheelchair-using mini-figure, and in September 2017, after collaborating with Rebecca’s campaign, Lottie Dolls launched the world’s first doll with a cochlear implant.

Ms Atkinson has now developed a ToyLikeMe website to help people find products online that represent children with disabilities and difference.

She is currently working to develop 3D printed toy wheelchairs, hearing aids and a white cane available for purchase in 2019.

#ToyLikeMe exhibiton at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: #ToyLikeMe/BethMoseleyPhotography #ToyLikeMe exhibiton at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: #ToyLikeMe/BethMoseleyPhotography

In a personal letter to Ms Atkinson, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The success of your ‘ToyLikeMe’ campaign is testament to your remarkable vision to represent disabilities and difference in toys.

“At a special time like Christmas, you should feel very proud that the toys your campaign has inspired will be received by children up and down the country, promoting a positive image of difference to all who receive them.”

Ms Atkinson said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the Points of Light award on Christmas Day. “What an amazing festive gift for us and the 150 million disabled children worldwide with disabilities who need positive toy box representation.

“We hope that the award continues to increase awareness among the mainstream toy industry about the need for cultural inclusion for these children.”

The Points of Light award recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

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