If you have a little girl with diabetes (or if you have diabetes and a little girl) you may have already heard the exciting news: In what is being recognized as a giant step forward for diabetes education and awareness, the American Girl company just released a diabetes supply kit for its popular dolls.
Girls with type 1 diabetes around the country are thrilled about the new diabetes supply kit—judging by the huge outpouring of support on the Facebook page (Diabetes American Girl) where children are posting pictures of themselves holding their dolls. “I have somebody just like me, and it’s fun to have someone just like me,” wrote one little girl about her doll, echoing the sentiments of the many similar comments posted by girls with diabetes and their moms.
The American Girl company (a subsidiary of Mattel) knows how important to their large and loyal market of 8 to 11-year-olds, to have a doll in her own likeness. The Diabetes American Girl kit (which includes a toy blood sugar monitor and a tiny pink insulin pump with adhesive to attach the infusion set) is part of a collection of accessories for Truly Me™ dolls.
American Girl added the supply kit to its catalogue, after an 11-year-old named Anja Busse from Antigo, Wisconsin, who has T1D created a Change.org petition (and collected 4,335 signatures on Facebook) calling on the company to create diabetes accessories. The company (which sells a hearing aid for American Girl dolls and even a mini-allergen-free lunch in-a-box as an accessory) was sensitive to her appeal:
“I'm 11 and I just got diagnosed with diabetes a little over 3 months ago,” Anja, said. “I feel so different now, and my whole life has been turned around. I want to have diabetes accessories for my American Girl doll so she is just like me.”
The diabetes supply kit is so much more than a $24 accessory for a doll, according to Kelli Ferguson, the Berrie Center’s child life specialist. “It recognizes that the only difference between an American Girl with diabetes and an American Girl without diabetes, is a small accessory. That’s a huge message for little girls and a step forward for awareness.”
Kelli added that play is how children best communicate and express themselves. Said Kelli, “Any toy or play item that encourages self expression and coping is beneficial for children—especially children facing medical situations, so they can communicate struggles and anxiety and gain mastery over their experiences. The power of having a look-a-like doll not only establishes positive self-image but also creates a safe place for the child to express any worries or struggles about her diabetes care through play with the doll. The creation of this kit transforms play to a therapeutic level!”