It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The American Girl Doll Wheelchair

For the American Girl doll who needs her own wheels, this wheelchair is just right. It includes adjustable footrests and a side pocket to hold whatever she wants to carry along.

Living in Baltimore, I can't get DC radio stations in my apt, but we can get them in the car. Go figure. So I often have internet radio on when I am home. Such was the case yesterday when an ad from American Girl dolls popped up in the player. HMMMMM..... I thought. I wonder if they still sell the AGD wheelchair? That wheelchair first appeared in their catalogue about a dozen or so years ago, right about the time I was getting tired of my Felicity doll, so although I thought it was totally awesome and was so excited to see it in there, I never wanted it (a few years later though I begged for the Cabbage Patch doll on crutches). I'm happy to report that AG does still sell it's wheelchair (picture above) for their "just like me" dolls.

However, I feel like AG hasn't reached their target population. Take a look at the product description above & then look at the comments. "For the American Girl doll who needs her own wheels..." AG seems to get it. They get how important it is for little wheelchair using girls to have a doll like this. How much it can help their self-esteem. But those moms aren't buying this chair for their daughters. I read all of the comments. Not one mom said she bought this for her chair using kid. There was a powerchair using grandma who bought this for her grandaughter, and 2 or 3 mothers who said they liked how playing with the chair teaches their kid(s) about diversity, but that was not the vast majority.

The vast majority of mothers commented on how they almost didn't buy the chair because they figured their daughter wouldn't play with it much. I feel like this is ableism in full force. I kind of infered that they were uncomfortable with their daughter playing with a "handicapped" doll. Why be so shocked to find out that your able bodied daughter plays with it all the time, that it is one of her favorite toys? It's 2009. She realizes we don't have the plague.

The other thing I noticed is how much mothers/daughters are pairing the chair with the Feel-Better Kit and how much the kid plays doctor/nurse. From the description, AG seems to be marketing the kit for use with dolls that have "sports injuries" (they have several different sports sets for the dolls). The child lifer in me loves this. Medical play decreases kids' levels of anxiety when they are faced with being in a medical setting, and it seems AG is trying to promote a "get out there and be active" lifestyle.

It's just... whatever happened to inclusion? Again, it is 2009. Where are the parents who bought this for the sister of a kid who now has to use a wheelchair, to make her more comfortable with the idea? Where is the mom who bought it for the able bodied girl whose best friend uses a wheelchair? Or what about pretending that your doll is Sally from your class in school/camp/church etc? What happened to the fact that the chair is (was?) clearly being marketed towards chair using girls themselves?

Why aren't we there yet?


Laurel said...

Were I the parent of a child in a chair, I wouldn't purchase this item--not because I would want to deny my child a representative toy, but because this isn't representative. This hospital-style chair directly represents the medical model.

Yes, it's great that there are dolls with their own wheelchairs. It isn't great that they're sitting in something that people automatically associate with being "sick". Now, if we can get a doll issued with a Quickie or Ti or Eagle, I'd be first in line.

Mind you, Barbie did beat them there with the Paralympic Becky. And yes, that raises a host of other issues--we're not all athletes, and it's not all glamor for those of us who are. But the image it promotes isn't the poor-sick-helpless-child, either. So why aren't we there yet? Why are we still accepting perceptions fostered by the medical model of disability?

Cheryl said...

that's what I want to know... thanks for delurking & welcome!

Suny said...

Hey Cheryl! As an OT/PT in training I love the availability of this wheel chair, I almost half remember talking to you about it when we were in high school.

Like Laurel said it is very "medical" but at the same time I see it as a step forward, although its mostly the same in the decade or so its been out.

I think this is a better alternative than the lack of.

Cheryl said...

Dude! How are you doing? You should blog more and I'll totally promote you. Oh, btw I moved in June & guess what? Michellene lives here! I think it might have been blue when it came out, but that's about it.

I was thinking it really depends on the purpose for buying it for the chair using girl. If she were in a car accident and was a new paraplegic, or maybe a bsaketball/track star, yes a sportier chair would be MUCH better.

However 10 years ago I had my most major surgery and some people pitched in and sent a vermont teddy bear in a hospital gown w/a bandage on its leg. They even mailed it half way across the country to the hospital. I LOVED that bear. I still have it @ my parents' house somewhere.

There is something to be said for being authentic. I think the first thing I said was "Where's the other one?" I'd had surgery on BOTH legs. Missing a bandage... The people who got it for me wouldn't have known that it would have been even more special had they called & asked for 2 bandages.

My point? I think it's perfectly acceptable for THAT girl. What alarms me is the comments from the parents of able bodied girls.

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