‘It’s really important’ – Six-year-old inspires Down’s syndrome doll

Max McLean
Saturday 20 March 2021 01:34
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Rosie Barnett, 6, with a new Lottie Dolls toy that is inspired by her

An Irish toy brand has released a Down’s syndrome doll ahead of World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), inspired by a six-year-old girl from Wiltshire.

Lottie Dolls co-founder Ian Harkin decided to make the doll after Rosie Barnett’s parents made headlines with a full-sized version of the Lottie Doll treehouse in their garden in 2020.

Now the doll – named Rosie Boo after Rosie, who has Down’s syndrome – is available for pre-order ahead of WDSD this Sunday.

And some of the money from each website sale will go to local Down’s syndrome charity Andover Twenty1.

“We’re thrilled, at this time of year especially, that we can raise awareness for Down’s syndrome and educate children on the differences that Down’s syndrome comes with, and what makes these kids special,” Rosie’s father Jason Kneen, from Faberstown, told the PA news agency.

“The nice thing about Lottie is that they’re very diverse and inclusive in terms of how they approach the design of the dolls.

“It’s really important that they have done different disabilities, different body types, and this is a great opportunity, with the extra information that has gone into the pack as well.”

The Rosie Boo doll features odd socks, a symbol worn to celebrate WDSD, and supportive boots to help with walking.

Rosie Barnett, 6, with a new Lottie Dolls toy that is inspired by her

Mr Harkin said: “We have learnt how playing with toys with differences helps develop empathy in kids before culture determines how we should react to differences.

“To me, that’s one of the most powerful things we’ve discovered about doll play, the positive impact that can empower kids but also potentially to help reduce bullying by normalising differences.

“It’s incredibly powerful for kids to be able to see a doll in their likeness but equally it’s important that all kids have a diverse toy box.”

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