Why a doll with Down Syndrome?
People aren't all alike. Dolls shouldn't be either.
Hannah was 9 years old when she was flipping through a popular doll catalog when she looked up at me and said, "There are no dolls like me in here. No dolls had surgery. They are all not like me."
Hannah has Down Syndrome and has had a number of surgeries including open heart surgery at 13 months. She is very aware of the long scar on her chest. We call it her miracle - but then, she is ours!
I started looking online for a doll with Down Syndrome and I found a few but was disappointed in the overly stereotypical features they displayed. I looked at them and thought, "That's not how I see my Hannah. She's beautiful, bright, funny, intelligent, silly, loving, witty, and spirited." I set out to make THAT doll. Hannah wanted a doll that looked like her and I wanted to give her that simple wish.
I began working with a respected doll sculptor and we spent months looking over hundreds of kids pictures submitted from all over the world to choose the features that we'd use on our doll. Karen began sculpting, and sculpting... and sculpting.
We changed the size of this, the shape of that, the color of something else until we felt like we finally captured a personality.
Porcelain Proto-Types For Molds
The firing, sizing and painting of the proto-types took a many weeks but we were finally satisfied that we would be able to produce dolls with different hair color, eye color and skin tones.
Our Story Has Been Featured on National and International News
of WPXI PITTSBURGH met Hannah and put her on TV! What a thrill. The story was picked up by the Huffington Post, KDKA/ABC, Yahoo News, ABC News, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and many, many more world wide. We are scheduled to appear in the coming weeks on Caso Cerrado on Telemundo/NBC and CTV's Canada AM.
What Others Are Saying
Children with Down syndrome are aware that they look different from children without it, said Karen Pool, general manager for TFH USA Special Needs Toys,. Her company is excited to sell Mrs. Feda's dolls.
"It just gives them an identifier, that they have something that looks like them, that they can play with, and be proud of and happy and carry around," she said.
Kishore Vellody, medical director for the Down Syndrome Center of Western Pennsylvania at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, said he thinks what Mrs. Feda is doing is "a great idea."
"We want to make sure that people know that kids with Down syndrome are out there, and that they're not something to be afraid of or something to make fun of," he said. "They're actually just like your own kids." He thinks the dolls could push that message into the mainstream population.
The National Down Syndrome Society said, "There have been dolls made for children with Down syndrome in the past, but none has received as much attention as the Feda family's dolls," said Julie B. Cevallos, vice president of marketing for the National Down Syndrome Society in New York, in an emailed statement.
"Any doll or toy that builds confidence and is fun for a child with Down syndrome is great!" she said.
What We Need Now- Support To Add More Dolls and For Accessories
We have a few more doll combinations that we'd like to add to our initial production.
My oldest daughter is an Occupational Therapist. She chose this career path in large part because of her experiences with Hannah. She and a group of other dedicated professionals have designed and/or modified accessories and clothing to promote manual dexterity. With functionality in mind, the ties, zippers, buttons, snaps and buckles are larger, easier to grasp and can help children gain directed fine motor skills.
If we raise $3,000 we can produce:
- AFO (Ankle-Foot-Orthosis) Leg Braces: Designed by Occupational Therapists, these doll size AFO braces are made to look like the real thing.
- Glasses: We have them, we just need to buy them and we'd like to get more than one style.
- Wet Suits: Even though our dolls are 100% vinyl and can get wet, it is recommended that your doll wear her wet suit to keep excessive water from entering her joints. This will enhance therapeutic use.
- 1 Specially Adapted Outfit and Shoes Clothing designed to promote independence in play and to help transfer learned skills to every day life. These included zippers, buttons, snaps all in larger sizes to facilitate skill building.
If we raise $4,000 we can produce:
- 2 Life Skill Activity Books: These are stories that come with an appropriate outfit that highlight special activities such as "Going to the Basketball Game," "My Hospital Trip," "Trying For the Gold," and other language and communication stories, many written by Special Education Teachers, Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapists. These books will be ASL Sign supported.
- Outfits that coordinate with the Life Skill Activity Books
If we raise $5,000 we can produce:
- 3 Specially Adapted Clothing Sets Clothing designed to promote independence in play and to help transfer learned skills to every day life. These included zippers, buttons, snaps all in larger sizes to facilitate skill building.
If we raise $6,000 we can produce:
- One Asian Girl Doll
- One Asian Boy Doll
- Two additional skin tone/hair/eye color combination dolls for
- a total of 20 combinations.
NEW STRETCH GOAL for $7,000
Hannah has made a special request. She loves Special Olympics and ice skating. She'd like her doll to have:
- Ice Skating Dress
- Ice Skates
- Matching Tiara's
Other items on our stretch goal wishlist are:
- Hearing Aids
- Weighted Blankets
- Lots of terrific outfits modified for easy dressing and independence working with specific skills
- Note cards written by therapists with helpful tips on use of our accessories
Risks and challenges
The manufacturer is in place and all systems are go, but there is always a risk of a shipping delay, customs issue or some unforeseen circumstance like the recent earthquake in China. But we've worked too long and hard to let anything stop us!
I can't tell you how we'd tackle a circumstance that is out of our control, I can only assure you that one of the members of my team is a 35 year veteran procurement specialist who has put every detail that she can anticipate into our work plan.
In the event that ANYTHING happens that we didn't account for, we'll be in touch with each and every one of our backers here, through email, Facebook or our website. We want everyone to be in the loop and we'll do everything we must to get our dolls to their new homes!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (22 days)