It’s getting to be that time a year again where parents bring out their Elf on a Shelf. But one mom of two, Clare Tawell, is making hers a little more inclusive for kids with disabilities by modifying the famous dolls so that they are more disability-friendly.
Tawell runs an Etsy shop called BirghtEars, which customizes dolls to have certain medical equipment, such as hearing aids, insulin pumps, cochlear implants, or feeding tubes, or to showcase certain body differences that some kids may have.
Tawell was inspired to create her inclusive online shop in honor of her 4-year-old daughter, Matilda, who is deaf. The caring mom shared how she struggled to find dolls that Matilda could identify with, and she was quite dejected when she saw the striking lack of disability-inclusive dolls. As the mom shared with TODAY, she felt “that society didn’t deem her important and therefore she shouldn’t be acknowledged.”
Wanting to give her daughter a doll with hearing aids that she could relate to, Tawell decided to create her own. And when she did, she ended up filling a gap in the market. Now, through her Etsy shop, parents of other kids with disabilities can order dolls for their children that better reflect the differences that make them special – and each doll is handmade to order.
Tadwell is hoping that her shop will help to get the conversation going about diversity and special needs and make it much less of a taboo. She wants to see the normalization of these physical differences so that kids can celebrate their differences rather than feel ashamed or out of place.
As the caring mother explained to TODAY, kids’ self-confidence can greatly be affected by the lack of diversity in their toys when they walk into a toy store. She has stated that she never wants a child to feel left out because of what physical differences they may have, and because of that, she wants to change things through her business.
As Tadwell stated, “I would love for children in the future to be able to go into a shop and see dolls with hearing aids and cleft lips next to the regular dolls, because then it makes it normal, not different.” She continued, saying, “When people see these dolls, it can open up a dialogue and increase awareness and understanding of these differences.”
And we can only imagine that a holiday elf made to be diverse will certainly make the holidays much more jolly for all the children who Tadwell is making them for. What an amazing mom!SKM: below-content placeholder