The Diversity Dolls at Shantivanam Children’s Community are part of our Character Development Program and are used as teaching tools when we focus on the development of respect and tolerance. After reading about them, you can scroll down to see a slide show of all of our Diversity Dolls.
Respect and tolerance involve treating others with courtesy, consideration, and dignity. When people have a lack of respect and tolerance, it is often around something they are not familiar with or they don’t understand well. Therefore, we use diversity dolls to help familiarize the children with ethnic, cultural, and physical differences they may not have seen before.
Each Diversity Doll is designed to represent a real child who has a particular difference, so they are selected and created to be as life-like as possible. That way the children can more easily relate to them as a real person.
Many of the dolls have been created to be beautiful, especially the ones with a difference that might be viewed negatively. However, our dolls that have been specifically created to lack physical beauty give the children an opportunity to discuss and discover the difference between inner and outer beauty. With all of the dolls, we always discuss whether the person a doll represents would still have feelings like each of the children have.
Our aim is to have dolls that represent the various types of human differences children may encounter at the local playground or any time they are out in public. If a child has some familiarity with an ethnic, cultural, or physical difference, then when they meet an actual person who has that difference, it’s not a complete oddity to them. When a child has some understanding of a difference, they are less likely to make unkind or embarrassing comments to the other individual.
While we hope the children will learn to tolerate differences, our greater hope is that they will learn to truly appreciate the diversity of human beings and to embrace ethnic, cultural, and physical differences. Our goal is to help the children see the beauty in all people.
You can see our Diversity Dolls and the children interacting with them below. If you find you are uncomfortable looking at these dolls, that feeling is exactly what we are attempting to help the children overcome. These dolls represent real children.