Lego’s New Range of Friends with Disabilities

When working with children, it is important that they feel included, and this can be harder for children with disabilities. Our disability support workers on the Gold Coast are all too aware of the challenges working with younger people can present. So we are absolutely delighted to see that Lego is introducing a new range of diverse characters who have disabilities in January 2023. If children can see others like them reflected in mainstream toy production, they feel included and less isolated.

Lego Friends

A decade ago, Lego launched their Lego Friends, who live in a Friends Universe that is reflected in both the physical blocks and characters that children can play with as well as cartoon animation. From January 2023, they will be joined by a new group of diverse characters who will help children to feel represented. The company has spoken of the number of letters received from children who wanted to see others like them and their families in mainstream toys. They also gathered opinions from their child testing and research program. They say that the new friends who will be joining their family are diverse characters who have visible and non-visible disabilities, multiple skin tones, and come from different cultures and backgrounds along with neurodiversity.

The LEGO Play Well Study 2022

At this stage, they have said that the first wave will include characters with anxiety, vitiligo, limb difference, down syndrome and, in the pet world, a blind dog and a dog using a wheelchair. The physical toys will give children a chance to explore in play and, when used in the animated series, will overcome challenges and obstacles as well as examine the passions of these characters as they make friends. The Lego Play Well Study 2022 discovered that the desire from the public to see representation in the characters was overwhelming. Over 97% of parents felt it was vital that no topic is off-limits and play should include mental health, physical disabilities and ethnicity. 73% of children involved in the study who had disabilities felt that they were not adequately represented and wanted to see more characters who looked like them that they could identify with.

Inclusivity

Tracie Chiarella, Head of Product, LEGO Friends at the LEGO Group, spoke of the motivation behind the new characters saying, “At the LEGO Group, we understand that children want the characters they encounter to be more like the diverse personalities they meet in real life. We’re continuously evolving our products so that they’re reflective of society today, and that’s why we’re proud to launch this brand-new generation of LEGO Friends. We want children to see the new LEGO Friends Universe, both in the physical product and the content we’re launching in 2023, as a reflection of their own friendships and to see the characters as authentic. We have chosen to evolve the LEGO Friends Universe and TV show to be more inclusive, giving parents and kids more tools to navigate friendship and their emotions as they grow and learn.”

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