Toy distributors and toy companies are also showing inclusion in their communications, for example, Toy Planet added a new cause to its commitment to corporate social responsibility by raising awareness about the inclusion of children with Down syndrome. In their Christmas catalog this year, children with this intellectual disability are the protagonists once more. A doll company like DeCuevas Toys, with the claim “together we play”, included children with disabilities on their packaging and in their catalogs showing both girls and boys playing with their mom, dad and even grandfather.
Another brilliant project and campaign is Fittle, a 3D-printed braille puzzle developed as an educational tool for the visually impaired. With each model the player can put together physical 3D pieces, each one with a braille letter on them. When the puzzle is finished the player can “read” the whole word. They are still in development but soon there will be models to cover the whole alphabet. Created by the LV Prasad Eye Institute in India in collaboration with Ravensburger, Fittle models and its pieces are free to download and print for everybody (they are open source!).
Beyond children with disabilities, it is important to understand that this trend is about “The new normal” about making sure all children have toys that represent their concrete physical features, their unique attitudes, beliefs and so on. This trend is very broad and it is behind dolls that represent transgender kids (For instance; Jazz Jennings by Tonner Doll Company), or even dolls with the concrete cultural characteristics of Muslim girls (For example; Salam Sisters). The opportunity lies in thinking about minorities, about children that have never been approached.
Help the less fortunate. Collaborate with real organizations or create your own projects.
Human-friendly projects are on the rise! I specifically love how some companies are developing products and marketing campaigns to help specific communities and even particular people in need. One great example is by the company The Wanderer London. They are not only supporting the organization Afrikids in Ghana, their Moses baskets are created by women (they show their names and photos in their website) who benefit greatly with this job, allowing them to take their kids to school and pay for their medical insurance.
Astrojax is a toy with 3 weaved balls that the player has to orbit in a fun-skilled way. Their textiles are hand-made by artisans in Guatemala. As the company says; “Guatemala is an economically poor country but incredibly rich in its culture of artisanship. We pay our artisans above-market wages and are economically transparent with our workers and business partners”. No doubt, this company is a great example of how to implement a socially responsible business model.
Astrojax’s general business is based on helping others with their products, but there are other ways to create a positive impact. Some companies are developing campaigns in collaboration with non-profit organizations. The good news is that the opposite is also happening; non-profits are looking for partnership with the toy industry to improve the awareness of certain issues.
In 2016, Amnesty International created a campaign to help put an end to child abuse. The campaign was launched due to the high rate of girls becoming pregnant as a result of abuse in Paraguay. That year, the organization distributed 500 pairs of the Arami & Aramu dolls among children in schools and hospitals in that country. The dolls were designed with sensors that played audio messages when pressed explaining where it is appropriate or not to be touched by others.