TV Series 'Mixmups' for Preschoolers to Feature Disabled Characters
What’s new: Created by disability advocate Rebecca Atkinson, a new preschool TV series featuring disabled characters may be coming to screens near you soon. Called “Mixmups,” the animated characters will include a wheelchair user and a guide dog. Along with Atkinson, who is deaf and partially blind, “Mixmups” was co-written by Debbie Macdonald, who has a son with Down syndrome.
I hope it will also become the first mainstream pre-school toy/tv/book brand to playfully and creatively represent and celebrate millions of disabled children and families worldwide who have waited the planet’s whole lifetime to reach this stage of cultural inclusion. — Rebecca Atkinson
The backstory: Atkinson has been working since 2015 to improve disability representation for kids through her campaign, Toy Like Me. Noticing the lack of toys for kids with disabilities, Atkinson and other parents in the U.K. lobbied toy companies to make toys with disabilities. Some manufacturers, including Makies, Playmobil and Lottie dolls, debuted disabled toys as a result.
The frontlines: There is a lack of disability representation across all media types, and a 2019 U.K. study highlighted this among children’s TV programming.
- An analysis of 50 popular kids TV shows found only 16% included a disabled character, 50% of whom were cast as the villain in the series
- Series identified as positively representing disability included the BBC show “Pablo,” “Sesame Street” and “Peppa Pig“
- “We believe that battling prejudice in adulthood is about normalising society during childhood,” the report said of the importance of representation.
A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Mollie Miller, explained why authentic disability representation in media leads to real-life equity. “When a person is not seen, they cannot be invited — into the offices, the homes, the events, the critical conversations and relationships — and that means fewer perspectives and more silenced people.” You can submit your first person story, too.
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Other things to know: It’s not easy to find kids media or toys that represent kids (or adults) with disabilities. Here are a few options you may want to check out:
- 13 TV Shows and Movies That Feature Characters (and Actors) With Disabilities You Can Watch
- 16 Books, Games and Toys for Kids That Feature People With Disabilities
- 25 Actors With Down Syndrome
More helpful thinking: “Mixmups” will be produced by Raydar Media and Mackinnon & Saunders. While it doesn’t currently have a release date, you can follow the progress on the “Mixmups” Facebook page.
Header image via “Mixmups” Facebook/Mackinnon & Saunders