A warm welcome to the Barbie doll with Down syndrome!

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The newest addition to Mattel’s range of inspirational dolls is a Barbie with Down syndrome, created to allow even more children to see themselves in Barbie, as well as have Barbie reflect the world around them.

Now available in South Africa, in celebration of National Down Syndrome Day on October 20, the Barbie doll with Down syndrome is meant to inspire all children to tell more stories through play.

“As the most diverse doll line on the market, Barbie plays an important role in a child’s early experiences, and we are dedicated to doing our part to counter social stigma through play,” said Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel. “Doll play outside of a child’s own lived experience can teach understanding and build a greater sense of empathy, leading to a more accepting world. We are proud to introduce a Barbie doll with Down syndrome to better reflect the world around us and further our commitment to celebrating inclusion through play.”

To ensure the doll accurately represents a person with Down syndrome, Barbie worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). NDSS empowers individuals with Down syndrome and their families by providing resources, driving policy change, engaging with local communities. NDSS’s guidance and real-world experiences informed the design process from start to finish, including the dolls sculpt, clothing, accessories, and packaging. The close partnership ensured the Barbie team celebrated individuals with Down syndrome through a doll that would immediately connect with the community.

“The launch of new Barbie Doll with Down syndrome in South Africa is a powerful symbol of inclusivity and representation”, says Ancella Ramjas, National Executive Director at Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA). As an organisation working with persons with Down Syndrome and their families, this presents a unique opportunity to work with Barbie SA to educate, empower and promote acceptance towards a more inclusive world, where everyone’s uniqueness is celebrated.”

“’Empowering Dreams, Embracing Diversity’ is the theme that we will be working with our upcoming National Awareness Month in October, and I also think it aligns with the message that we as an organisation see with regards to the impact of the new Barbie Doll. Together let’s break down barriers one doll at a time by Empowering Dreams and Embracing Diversity,” concludes amjas.

Children’s early experiences help shape their thoughts and perceptions – and Barbie can play an important role in this process. When a child plays with Barbie, they play out their dreams and imagine they can be anything. Doll play has an incredible purpose during key developmental stages as it may help set children on a course for success by allowing them to develop empathy – fuelling social skills needed to excel as they imagine their futures with an equal playing field. The Barbie doll with Down syndrome allows more children to see themselves in Barbie as well as the world around them, which can help foster a sense of inclusivity.

Barbie is the most inclusive doll line on the market – with over 175 looks offering a variety of eye colours, hair colours and textures, body types, disabilities, and fashions to tell more stories. Barbie has introduced dolls with vitiligo, dolls that use a wheelchair or a prosthetic limb, a doll with hearing aids and a doll without hair. This year, Barbie is continuing to represent global belonging and inclusivity with the full 2023 Fashionistas lineup, which also includes new dolls in a variety of body types including a new Fashionista doll wearing braces and a Ken Fashionista doll with a prosthetic leg.

Barbie doll with Down Syndrome is available at leading retailers nation-wide, at a RSP of R279.00

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