By Noah Segal, SED’16
On January 28, 2016, the toy company LEGO announced that starting this summer, they will be selling a wheelchair for their popular toy sets. This is a big deal.
This is an important step in providing children with physical disabilities the opportunity to play with mainstream toys that actually look like them. As someone who has never had to experience anything like this, it is hard for me to fathom the fact that many children with physical disabilities only play with dolls, action figures, and LEGOs that walk on two feet without any extra support. What kind of message does that send to those children about what society expects them to eventually become?
I am certain that I am not the only one who has a preschool yearbook collecting dust somewhere in their basement where in it we proclaimed that we were either going to be a something like a firefighter, ballerina, or a Power Ranger (obviously the green one) when we grew up. Personally, being able to play with Power Ranger action figures played a huge role in my four-year-old self’s aspirations. When I played with the green Power Ranger, I was the green Power Ranger. I was saving the world through that green and white plastic action figure. I was able to play out the wild, make believe scenarios in my head using an action figure that looked like me, ran like me, and jumped like me. Although now at age 23, I am almost certain that I will never become the green Power Ranger, (although who can really say with any certainty?) I value the fact that I was at least afforded the opportunity to dream about it as a child.
I’m not saying that children with physical disabilities should be forbidden from identifying with toys that are without a disability, but I am acknowledging that there should be more toys similar in appearance to children with physical disabilities.
LEGO is taking a big first step in literally leveling the playing field for typical children and their peers with physical disabilities. In the near future I look forward to seeing more and more toys made with similar consciousness and awareness as the LEGO wheelchair.