MATTEL'S 'AMERICAN GIRL OF THE YEAR' HAS A HEARING AID!
Introducing Joss Kendrick - 'a fierce athlete born with hearing loss and a passion for surfing and competitive cheer'!
I love how far we’ve come when I read positive articles such as this. My daughter is attending 6th form college and no longer has an interest in playing with dolls, understandably of course, but this would have been a great choice to help educate and instigate conversations around difference when she was younger.
Mattel are one of the world’s largest children’s toy manufacturers and are proud to produce a doll that celebrates difference – aiming to teach younger children about socially inclusive values. Mattel’s 'American Girl' dolls, books and accessories are a big thing in the States; introduced in 1986, they have sold over 32 million dolls and almost 200 million American Girl books. According to Mattel, the dolls, and their stories “teach girls aged eight and up important lessons about the role of women and girls in the US”. So it is great to see Mattel – through the launch of its ‘American Girl of the Year’ for 2020 – working to normalise the wearing of hearing aids.
The doll is called Joss Kendrick and comes with a removable hearing aid and back story detailing the “fierce athlete born with hearing loss and a passion for surfing and competitive cheer”. Sounds a bit glib. But it could prove to be powerful.
Julie Sparks from Mattel said: “Hearing loss is one of the most common disabilities, with 15 per cent of children between six and 19 having measurable hearing loss in at least one ear. We hope Joss and her story will help broaden understanding and respect for people’s differences, as well as spark conversations around the topic of hearing loss. Joss demonstrates a positive approach to living your best life with a disability – and teaches others to celebrate it too.”
Mattel collaborated with surfing, competitive cheerleading and – importantly – hearing loss experts. The company has partnered with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) to create the doll and her story and has donated $25,000 to HLAA. Mattel also accepted consumer donations on its website and in all its retail stores during the whole of 2020. So, Joss may well have a real legacy. HLAA executive director Barbara Kelley said: “What could be more exciting than to have an American Girl character be a role model for girls with hearing loss? We’re proud to partner with American Girl to help girls know that, like Joss, they too can be and do anything – an empowering message for girls with or without hearing loss. I hope girls who read Joss’s inspiring story will help create awareness about hearing loss among their friends and family.”
Well, we wholeheartedly agree. Well done, Mattel!