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Lego unveiled its first-ever minifigure in a wheelchair, which first appeared at international toy fairs this week.
Donning a beanie and hoodie, the male plastic figure is part of the company’s upcoming “Fun in the Park” set. The four-brick-tall toy provides an option that was once only possible if children crafted their own mini wheelchair out of existing Lego bricks.
Lego’s line-up of minifigures includes alien pirates, skeletons, punk rockers and Batman, but previously did not make room for toys that represented children with disabilities. Last year, a Change.org petition urged the toy company to “[t]hink outside the brick box.”
“Oh Lego, where are your basket balling wheelsters? Baseball playing Duplo folk with hearing aids? White cane using Lego Friends off to the gym? In fact, where is your positive disability representation at all?” said the petition, which gathered more than 20,000 online signatures.
In an article for the Guardian, Rebecca Atkinson said she founded the #ToyLikeMe social campaign last year to call on the toy maker to be more inclusive in its products to help change cultural perceptions of 150 million children with disabilities worldwide.
Initially, Lego’s response was left to children’s imaginations.
“The beauty of the Lego system is that children may choose how to use the pieces we offer to build their own stories,” the company said.
Now, a “wheelster” can rub shoulders with female scientists like paleontologist Mary Anning and physicist Marie Curie as Lego becomes more inclusive in its minifigure line-up, brick by brick.
Video by Zusammengebaut
“We’ve got genuine tears of joy right now. Lego has just rocked our brick-built world!” Atkinson said in a statement on Change.org.
Joshua Barajas is a senior editor for the PBS NewsHour's Communities Initiative. He also the senior editor and manager of newsletters.
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