Interview: An inclusive toy box with Rosie Boo Lottie Doll

After a life-size replica of a Lottie Dolls treehouse was created by a family for their daughter with Down’s syndrome, the toy company created a new doll that is set to educate more young people about Down’s syndrome.

As an avid fan of Lottie Dolls, six-year-old Rosie played with the dolls and the Lottie Treehouse so much that her father, Jason, ended up building a life-size replica treehouse in the family’s back garden. 

This creation caught the attention of Ian Harkin, CEO of Arklu, the company behind Lottie Dolls.

After Ian saw the life-size Lottie Treehouse, he created a special one-off doll for Rosie. “Rosie’s dad mentioned to me that lots of families would love a Down’s syndrome doll,” enthuses Ian. “We asked our followers to sign up and we received an overwhelmingly positive response.”

EMPOWER

Created with realism in mind, the dolls celebrate childhood and the promotion of empowerment by helping children to be themselves, play imaginatively and adventurously. With dolls that are based on nine-year-olds with a realistic body shape, Lottie

Most importantly the dolls are inspired by real children – like Rosie. 

Working closely with Rosie and her family, Ian and his team utilised the unique qualities that make Rosie who she is, alongside highlighting key characteristics of a person with Down’s syndrome from Rosie’s haircut to her eyes, nose and mouth and her boots which aid her walking.

Ian continues: “We were given a picture of Rosie to work from and then a list of things that made her unique.

“After we made the initial doll we received some feedback online, we changed her socks so that they didn’t match and we repainted her eyes to make them smaller and more almond shaped. We also changed the shading above and below the eye and got final approval from Rosie’s family. 

“They were very subtle changes but important ones.”

DIVERSE

The Rosie Boo Lottie Doll, which is available for pre-order prior to a July release, features odd socks to mark the universal symbol for Down’s syndrome, a bunny dress to represent Rosie’s love of nature and animals, plus a leaflet with information on what makes Rosie Boo Lottie Doll unique.

Furthermore, the Rosie Boo Lottie Doll will make toy boxes across the world more inclusive and subtly share information on learning disability and Down’s syndrome.

“Having a diverse range where kids can see dolls that look like them is very important,” adds Ian. “We want every kid to have a diverse toy box. If dolls can, in some way, help develop empathy and understanding before culture teaches kids how they should behave, then it’s probably the most rewarding thing we have discovered so far.”

Research released in 2019 from UNESCO relating to bullying, it found that 30 per cent of children have been bullied and 60 per cent of bullying occurred because of visible differences. 

Ian adds: “If dolls can in some way help develop empathy and understanding before culture teaches kids how they should behave, then it’s probably the most rewarding thing we have discovered so far.”

Furthermore, charity Toy Like Me called on the industry to make more inclusive toys, the Lotte Dolls team have created autistic dolls, dolls with ADHD, one with a cochlear implant, plus a little person doll.

Ian concludes: “Inclusive design is so important so that people can see themselves in the world around them, but equally it’s important that everyone has an inclusive toybox to develop empathy at a young age.”

You can pre-order your Rosie Boo Lottie Doll online, with proceeds going to Andover Twenty1. Learn more about inclusive toys with Toy Like Me.