Toy stories aim to dispel any negative myths around disabilities

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

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

Frozen's Olaf the snowman with a hearing aid, or Barbie with running blades – they're not the toys you might be used to seeing line the shelves or tucked under the tree this Christmas.

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

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

But an photographic exhibition at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is showcasing how mainstream toys can be customised, to be more inclusive for children with disabilities.

The exhibition, called Toy Box Tales from #ToyLikeMe, shows 12 photos of toys customised to give what organisers call 'diff:abilities'.

'It's time diff:ability got a creative airing in design,' says #ToyLikeMe founder and creative consultant Rebecca Atkinson. 'For too long diff:abled people have been portrayed as pity-inducing, negative and snooze-worthy. Toy wheelchairs are nearly always grey and found in hospital sets.

'What does that tell kids? We want to shake out the dust, chuck on the sparkles and play creatively and fearlessly with representations of diff:ability in childhood.'

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

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


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Ms Atkinson said some 150 million 'diff:abled' children worldwide are culturally marginalised by the industries which exist to entertain and educate them.

'They are almost invisible across children's industries,' she said.

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'But this Christmas, the sparkle-filled winds of change are sweeping through the toy box as the nimble-fingered modelling skills of #ToyLikeMe have created a doll-sized prosthetic leg, given Hulk a diabetic line, customised the cast of Frozen, and in homage to fashion model Winnie Harlow, present the world's first rollerblading doll with vitilgo.'

The exhibition will be on display in the Atirum, at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, from November 16 - January 17.

Ms Atkinson also thanked Hospital Arts for providing the exhibition space.

The photos can also be seen online at www.toylikeme.org

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