Lego releases a figure in a wheelchair
Can a micro figure who uses a wheelchair really make a difference?
It was revealed yesterday that the Danish toy manufacturer is releasing a figure who uses a wheelchair, this comes after a social media campaign and other pressures in which the world-famous brand was accused of a "lack of diversity". The new micro-figure is set to go on sale in June of this year and the credit for this is largely being given to the #ToyLikeMe campaign which launched last year. according to the press, a petition launched by the campaign gathered in the region of 20,000 signatures.
What struck me yesterday when asked about this very subject over dinner last night was this, it is not the first time that a toy manufacturer has attempted to be more diverse in representing people with a disability. During the late 1990's leading doll manufacturer Mattel produced Wheelchair Becky and have, over the years, produced a diverse range of the traditional Barbie doll which illustrated the diverse and multi-cultured nature of modern society. In fact, if memory serves me correctly I can recall one of my nieces playing with a Playmobil figure who used a wheelchair. Children are of course naturally curious, quite often if I am in a supermarket I encounter an inquisitive child who will give you a puzzled glance and then ask their parent "What's wrong with his legs?..They are usually dragged away quickly be an embarrassed looking parent.
Recent studies by leading disability charities such as Scope has revealed that two-thirds of the British public feel awkward around a person with a disability, we know that we have much to do if we are to become a truly inclusive society. The best thing we can do if we do truly want to embrace the diverse nature of our society is to start with education, training and awareness-Essentially we need to remove the fear and misunderstanding before the barriers to real equality can truly be removed. Whilst I think it is potentially a good thing that Lego has taken the move to introduce a micro figure in a wheelchair my real feeling is that this will become like Wheelchair Becky, who, after a short time seemed to disappear completely and was almost a novelty rather than a vehicle for change.
Personally, I look forward to the day when a toy featuring a disability is not headline news.