How a Young Maker Helped Make Barbie More Inclusive

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How a Young Maker Helped Make Barbie More Inclusive

At 13, Jordan Reeves’ Maker cred is already impressive. She created her own 3D-printed, unicorn horn-shaped, glitter-shooting prosthetic that fits her left arm, which ends just above the elbow. Her Unicorn Project inspired Jordan and her mom Jen to start a non-profit, Born Just Right, to help other kids with limb differences learn to improve their lives with making too.

Jordan’s also a founding member of the STEAM Squad, a diverse group of some of the most accomplished girls involved in science, technology, engineering, art, and math today (which also includes Mythbusters Jr. co-host Allie Weber).

She has shown off her work at Maker Faire, AIGA, Parson’s School of Design, and many other venues across the country. And her experience with design has given her a chance to consult and offer insight to large brands across many different genres.

This is all to say that perhaps my coolest experience at Toy Fair New York this year was getting to meet Jordan and Jen and tag along when they finally got to see the fruits of their long-brewing collaboration with Mattel — the latest additions to their Barbie Fashionista line, which includes dolls with different body types, hair textures, skin tones, and now has dolls in wheelchairs and a doll with a prosthetic leg.

Jordan’s advocacy for inclusive toys like dolls with limb differences began in 2015, when she launched a campaign that garnered more than 26,000 signatures. That led to interviews and a TEDx talk about the importance of doll representation, and drew the attention of Mattel.

As part of her work with the doll’s designers, Jordan helped pick out the color of the prosthetic. But more importantly, she and her mom convinced Mattel that for kids to relate to the doll, the leg had to be removable. “It’s like a shoe, you take it off when you get home,” Jen explained.

Mattel said in a statement, “As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion.” The doll will be available in June.

Meanwhile, Jordan and Jen will continue to travel from their family’s home in Missouri to spread the word about Making and inclusion around the country. They also have a book called Born Just Right coming from Simon & Schuster in June. I’m excited to see what else this inspiring young Maker and her supportive family come up with next!

Kathy Ceceri is the author of over a dozen books for young Makers, including Paper InventionsFabric and Fiber InventionsMaking Simple RobotsMusical Inventions, and Edible Inventions, all from Maker Media, as well as Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future and Video Games: Design and Code Your Own Adventure. She loves presenting workshops for students and educators at schools, museums, libraries, and makerspaces throughout the Northeast. Visit her at Crafts for Learning.

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Kathy's latest books for Maker Media include Fabric and Fiber Inventions, Musical Inventions, and Edible Inventions. She is also the author of Paper Inventions, Making Simple Robots, and other books full of STEAM activities for kids and other beginners. When she's not busy writing, Kathy presents workshops for students and educators at schools, museums, libraries, and makerspaces throughout the Northeast. Visit her at Crafts for Learning.

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