(CNN Spanish) — Fighting discrimination as a family through play can become a didactic and practical tool to eliminate prejudices and stereotypes, and for this reason “Bebé Victoria” arrived in Ecuador, the first doll with Down syndrome traits in the country created by a particular person.
The design of the doll promotes that children can learn to respect and accept each other in the midst of their differences. The creator of the doll, Belén Bonnard, a clinical psychologist, was inspired by her little daughter Ana Victoria Hidalgo and wants parents and children to naturalize more the things that make them different.
A story of love, resilience and the fight against discrimination
When little Ana Victoria Hidalgo came into the world almost two years ago, the life of her mother María Belén Bonnard took an unexpected turn, but at the same time challenging.
Ana Victoria was born with Down syndrome, and her condition prompted her mother to turn her personal experience into a powerful opportunity to change patterns and fight discrimination in Ecuador.
Based on all the information that he reviewed, studied and investigated due to his daughter’s case, Bonnard took the initiative to devise and launch “Baby Victoria” in November, the first doll with Down syndrome traits created by a private person in the country and that was inspired by little Ana Victoria, daughter of Bonnard.
“Children learn through play. It’s the first way they get to know the world. So, ‘Bebé Victoria’ was the way that all children could have the experience of knowing a person with Down syndrome and that their parents have the excuse of talking about differences at home since we are so young, in such a way that it is natural to know that we are different from a young age,” Belén Bonnard told CNN.
This clinical psychologist from Guayaquil is motivated by the idea of a world in which opportunities overcome prejudices and where differences are normalized. She believes that it is necessary to start breaking established patterns and for people to recognize themselves among diversity.
“It has never been normal that we are all exactly the same, the world sometimes wants to sell us the same list of things to accomplish in order to be successful and achieve happiness. And if we start to analyze the world in a deeper way, how many people have that, in quotes, success that the world sells us, and they are extremely unhappy?” Bonnard wonders.
A virtual community that grows in search of inclusion
Through the power of social media, Bonnard has encouraged other parents to address their children’s Down syndrome diagnoses with more information and education to integrate them into a more inclusive path. A virtual community that, every day, asks you questions, comments and amplifies a network of support and resilience.
The funds raised from the sale of the dolls will go, according to Bonnard, to families who do not have the resources to access therapies for their children.
“Betting on changing what has been done in the same way, changing the mold, breaking with what has always been and does not have to continue to be so, if we do something, and on the other hand invite parents not to be afraid to speak of how different we are, that if they are asked about a child with Down syndrome they speak naturally without hiding it, without shame,” Bonnard insists.
How was the production of “Baby Victoria” achieved?
The creation of “Baby Victoria” took 19 months and had complexities. It had not been produced before in Ecuador, so Bonnard sought support from a private company for its design and manufacture… in addition to the bureaucratic processes to put it on sale. He says that it was not easy to obtain certain materials such as the hair or the eyes in dark tones for the doll. It is a sign, says Bonnard, that the bosses are still entrenched despite living in a mostly mixed-race society.
“The world changes one child at a time”
Belén Bonnard hopes that the new generations with whom little Ana Victoria and other children with Down syndrome will share in the future at work, at school and in daily life will be more in tune with equality and respect for differences. And, therefore, she proposes that the world change “one child at a time”.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (CDC), Down syndrome is a genetic condition that entails differences in physical and intellectual development with respect to other people.
The CDC notes that babies with Down syndrome have an extra copy of one of these chromosomes: chromosome 21, and this extra copy “changes the way the baby’s body and brain develop, which can cause both mental and as physicists,” he points out.
The global incidence reported by the UN is located on average at 1 in 1,000 newborns in the world.
In December 2011, the General Assembly designated March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day to promote greater awareness of the dignity and valuable contributions of people born with the condition.