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  • Mika Hartman


By Mika Hartman

In 1959, the iconic Barbie doll went on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Since this time, over a billion Barbies have been sold. I grew up with Barbies and even had a nice collection, in my early 20’s, of collector Barbie dolls. When Mattel started creating Barbie dolls that represented friends with disabilities in 2022, I understood how important these dolls would be and I also thought how long overdue they were. Finally, inclusion!

April of this year, Mattel introduced the first ever Barbie with Down syndrome. Mattel worked with National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to create a Barbie that would capture the light of our children’s love and give respect to the beautiful characteristics of Down syndrome. They nailed it. She glows. The NDSS Barbie reminds me of gorgeous friends we’ve made on this journey.

At the release, I immediately started scrambling to make sure I got mine ordered…

and before the day was over, they were completely sold out! You read that right: SOLD OUT!

More are available now for order on Amazon. I just checked, they are back in stock and 1K+ sold in past month.

Inclusion matters.

After I secured my Barbie, I then ordered the life-size necklace that is worn by the Barbie with Down syndrome. It is Barbie pink and has “The Lucky Few” arrows as the “lucky” charm. I got my confirmation, but later received a message that the demand was so overwhelmingly huge, that orders would be delayed and supplies needed to be restocked. I loved getting this update because it meant that the want was high. Then, this: Mica May, the maker of the necklace, saw the beautiful response and decided to hire BIG The Brookwood in Georgetown to assemble the necklaces. When my Barbie necklace arrived, it came with a card about the artist that made my jewelry piece. Her name is Emma. She is from Texas, can light up a room with her vibrant smile, loves all things musical, does Zumba and can be found dancing all the time. Emma was born with Down syndrome. Mica May hired people with Down syndrome to help make this necklace. Perfection.

Inclusion matters.

A few years ago, I was searching for a doll that looked like my Hudson. At that time, I could only find one. It was created by a company called Miniland. Miniland dolls state on their website that they offer a variety of dolls, including diversity and handicaps. I discovered only one shop on the Gulf Coast carried this doll. They are sold at Riley’s Children’s Apparel in Gulfport. So I called and reserved my doll for Hudson. As I drove over, I was sharing with a friend on the phone how excited I was to have found one in time for Hudson’s third birthday. I then talked about how I could get these dolls for all our friends children for birthdays and Christmas… then it was said, “but why would you get a doll with Down syndrome for a “normal” child?”. Even remembering this conversation now is hurting my heart, it feels so heavy. I think the better question is, “why should dolls with Down syndrome only be for children with Down syndrome, how can you learn or teach like that?”. Do you know how many books and toys Hudson has that have zero representation of our friends with Down syndrome? So if Hudson can play with toys that represent typical children, read books that represent typical children, play with typical children, and more, then why can’t parents see the need to introduce their children to toys and books that teach inclusion of Hudson, too?

Inclusion matters.

The weeks leading up to the golf tournament, I took a new baby doll with Down syndrome to the clubhouse as a visual prop. My dad found this incredibly realistic doll for me as part of my Christmas. This doll is wonderful. While this baby was on display at The Oaks, I kept hearing how beautiful and real the doll is from people registering. One young lady said that her brother was born with Down syndrome and she had never seen a doll like this. She was so taken by this doll that she took him home for her mom to see; they both were filled with real emotions that there is now a doll that includes someone they love so much. When I told her that this doll made by Paradise Galleries is available on Amazon, to just search: Down Syndrome Awareness Baby Noah Doll. She was going home to order one.

Inclusion matters.

A few months ago, I was visiting the library in Pass Christian and talking with the head librarian. We were talking about how important it is to have kids that look like you in books to encourage and inspire you. How skin color matters. How ethnicity matters. How gender matters. If only boys are shown to fly shuttles into space, should a girl think she could, too? It’s true. When the Ghostbusters formed an all girl team, I was thinking “why”, when really, I should have been thinking “why not”… and I was so happy they did. It was great! So if we are to inspire needed change, we have to be open to living the life we seek. If all of this representation brings out the best in us to live our best life, then representing everyone as God created them is a must.

Inclusion matters.

This August, I am teaming up with The Biloxi Shuckers and Buddy Cruise for an awesome night at the MGM Park. This night will be full of surprises. The Biloxi Shuckers will be wearing Buddy Cruise Jerseys that I helped design with Teresa Arnoldson; they were created with extra love and represent people with different disabilities. These jerseys will be auctioned after the game. Our first pitch will be thrown by friend with a disability, our National Anthem will be sung by a friend with a disability, the stands will be filled with 100’s of families on the beautiful journey with their loved ones with disabilities, and so much more. The game is August 11th at 6:30 against the Tennessee Smokies. I have tickets available in our section for $16 per ticket. Please call me at 719-822-6497 to get tickets.

Inclusion matters.

One day, I will feel as if we have won the “inclusion matters’ campaign, when we no longer need to tell people that a disability is attached to a person… Hudson is Hudson. Hudson was born with Down syndrome; it’s a part of him, not all of him. This part of him does make him different, however, it makes him different in the most EXTRAordinary ways.

EXTRA Celebration: We will be celebrating Hudson's five year Heartiversary on July 27th. Five years of learning, growing and thriving with a heart that works well. Life is a gift, we celebrate it all.



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