I’m 42-years old and proud to say I still love Legos; they’re on my bedside table, on my desk at my office, and I once even created customized minifigs of all my coworkers. Today, because of the first-ever* minifig with a disability released by the brickmaker, I love Lego even more.
This happened in part because of Rebecca Atkinson, co-founder of the #ToyLikeMe campaign, which is calling on the global toy industry to start representing disability. Many toy brands exclude 150 million children with disabilities worldwide by failing to positively represent them in products. 20,000 signatures to a Change.org petition and Lego listened.
Unveiled at a European toy fair and not yet available to the public, the minifig is in a wheelchair complete with a service dog. While this isn’t about advertising and disability, this is an amazing story of personal convictions, pop culture, and global publicity. Buzzfeed, the Guardian and dozens of other major media outlets are covering this.
Atkinson shared in a Guardian newspaper article, “For a child with a disability it would be hugely affirming to be reflected by a brand such as Lego. It tells them that the brand is behind them, believes in them, and that they are part of the mainstream. For children without a disability, seeing a brand such as Lego celebrate human difference helps to create a more positive attitude when they meet someone with an impairment in real life.”
Duplo, the larger brick sets for younger builders did introduce a figure in a wheelchair in 2015, and now with this minifig, momentum could be building not only for other disabilities to be included among Lego’s little yellow people but also among other toy brands.
*All of the publicity is wonderful, but I do believe Lego has, in a small way, already connected with some in the disability community…well at least with me being blind in one eye and having a visual impairment in the other.