Amy Jandrisevits appreciates a well-made doll for what it is. ‘Dolls have a power we don’t totally comprehend,’ she said on the Today show.
As a pediatric cancer social worker, she came to this realization while utilizing dolls to help her young clients cope with their medical conditions.
That doll was a reflection of themselves for many of the kids. Children who had lost a limb or their hair were unable to find dolls that represented them.
So, when a friend revealed seven years ago that her child was transgender, Jandrisevits knew how to support the child while still being an LGBTQ ally.
To promote a child’s self-esteem, she says, ‘it’s hard to tell a youngster, ‘You are perfect the way you are,’ yet never provide them anything that looks like them.’
Toys whose young fans can see themselves reflected in their appearance
But Jandrisevits set out to alter that. She used fabric, thread, and markers to create a doll like her friend’s baby and mailed it to her.
A mother asked Jandrisevits to create a doll to look like her child who was born without a limb after seeing a photo of her friend’s child playing with the doll online.
Soon, children with scars, birthmarks, facial deformities, and tracheostomies could come to Jandrisevits and commission a doll that looked just like them. After being laid off, she founded the charity A Doll Like Me.
From her Milwaukee home, Jandrisevits spends around seven hours making each doll based on images given by parents or caretakers.
She is able to volunteer her skills and cover some of her expenses thanks to a GoFundMe campaign. When she first started her charity, she didn’t even charge for the dolls she gave away.
So far, she’s created almost 400 dolls. Even if there is a large waiting list, Jandrisevits is not deterred.
‘Every kid—regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, age, medical issue, or body type—should gaze into the gentle face of a doll and see their own,’ she writes on her GoFundMe website.
Next, learn about the neighbors who spent four days climbing a tree to save a cat.