Lego Promotes Equality By Producing Their First Every Mini-figure In A Wheelchair

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The Nuremberg toy fair will be a memorable one this year because the LEGO company revealed a wheelchair-using Lego figurine, complete with helper dog, for the first time in their history, following the #ToyLikeMe equality campaign.

The LEGO figurine was also spotted at the London Toy Fair, and features a beanie-hatted character sitting in a wheelchair, alongside a helper dog. This was one of a new range of mini-figures to be released by the company this year, which also includes an ice-cream vendor, cyclist, picnickers and other characters, in a new park scene developed using bricks from the company’s City range.

This step forward is quite a significant move on their part as it comes after sharp criticism that was levelled at the company for their lack of diversity within their range, as well as their mini-figures. With the launch last year of the equality campaign, #ToyLikeMe, which gained over 20,000 signatures on a Change.org petition, LEGO and other major toy and game producers have started to introduce a wide range of more diverse characters to their offerings.

After an article published in the Guardian newspaper last year by Rebecca Atkinson asked the question, “Why do you never see a Lego mini-figure with a disability?” LEGO stepped up their efforts to produce the wheelchair bound character.

The Guardian article pointed out that LEGO was continuing to exclude around 150 million disabled children worldwide by not including characters with disabilities, and that they should use their power of influence to change cultural perceptions, and that the issue goes beyond their sales figures or disability access.

After the initial call for a change to their range, LEGO at first appeared to resist the appeal, and instead spoke about the ability that children had to use their pieces how they chose, and were able to build their own stories. However, they later seemed to do an about-turn on the subject, and as a result went on to produce the new wheelchair bound character, along with their assistance dog.

On hearing the news about the new mini-figure, the organisers of the #ToyLikeMe campaign were overjoyed, and wrote on their campaign page: “We’ve got genuine tears of joy right now … Lego have just rocked our brick-built world!” They went on to say on Twitter that this was a momentous occasion, and that the message behind it was far bigger than simply a tiny one-inch-tall plastic figure.

The introduction of the wheelchair mini-figure by LEGO comes as welcome news that has many disability groups and advocates cheering. The new figure made it’s debut at both the Nuremberg and London toy fairs this month, and is set for general release to the public this summer.

As Thursday 4th February is International Lego Day, it could be seen as a well-timed addition to the LEGO family, but fans will still have to wait a bit longer to actually get their hands on the new mini-figure.

This news comes at a time where long-time favourite toy doll ‘Barbie’ saw a makeover. The new range of dolls to hit the shops show a wide range of different body shapes, hair types and eye-colour in an effort to help children identify better with the doll. Maybe their could be more to come in the future that include dolls featuring disabilities? We shall have to wait and see.

Mobility Scooters Set To Get More Disabled People Enjoying The Malvern Hills

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A new set of plans are being put in motion for a mobility scooter project that aims to help disabled people to get roving around the Malvern Hills. The plan is to provide mobility scooters to allow disabled people easier access to the area, where they may have been denied access before.

The organisers of the project have carried out a routine assessment by taking to the hills riding two mobility scooters on the Worcestershire Beacon, which is the highest point of the hills.

The plan came about when Dr Adrian Burden, founder of the Wyche Innovation Centre, thought it would be good for local residents and visitors who had restricted mobility to have better access the the Worcestershire Beacon.

As the Innovation Centre is close to some of the most popular visitor spots on the hills, and contains the Malvern Hills GeoCentre, and Cafe H2O, it wasn’t difficult for Dr Burden to motivate the centre staff , now named ‘Team Jamboree’, to start raising funds to buy a mobility scooter.

When speaking to local press, Dr Burden said: “The intended route would enable residents and visitors of the Malvern Hills with restricted mobility or a disability to travel up to the Worcestershire Beacon whilst accompanied by a friend or family member. This initiative will help more people access the Malvern Hills and enjoy the fresh air and fantastic views on offer.”

He also commented that there has been enthusiastic support from the Malvern Hills Conservators, the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Disabled Ramblers.

Dr Burden’s team are now working closely with Countryside Mobility, a project of Living Options Devon, who have experience in providing mobility scooters to various attractions in the UK.

The recent route assessment conducted using two mobility scooters to test the terrain was a very important part of an access audit and risk assessment to measure what routes would be suitable for access, and whether anything major needs addressing before allowing the scooter service to be offered.

Following the route assessment, Dr Burden stated that the following weeks would see the project reviewing the risk assessment findings, and looking at recommendations. The team hope their plans are feasible, and will do everything they can to make it happen. More details of the project will be released once the feasibility studies have been completed.

The Malvern Hills has been hitting the local headlines because of the controversial proposal to build a cable car system that would run down the side of the Worcestershire Beacon. The mobility scooter project idea was sparked off in part because of a debate arising from this issue regarding disabled access to the Malvern Hills.

The hills are largely accessible for disabled visitors given the appropriate mobility aids, and the Disabled Ramblers charity have been successfully organising rambles over almost the whole length of the Malvern Hills for years. It has been the aim of the Conservators to keep the hills open to all, so this mobility scooter project will be another very welcome way to give access to the breathtaking scenery and countryside for those less mobile.

Mobility Scooter Transformation Benefits Charity

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A 73 year old Grandad turned his mobility scooter into the famous Coca-Cola Christmas truck to help raise funds for a cancer charity.

Pensioner, Barrie Hall, has managed to raise thousands of pounds in aid of the Cancer Research charity by painstakingly transforming his mobility scooter to look just like the iconic Coca-Cola truck as seen in television adverts at Christmas time.

It took Barrie a total of eight months to convert his second-hand scooter, at a cost of around £400. The 7mph top speed disability scooter was transformed using parts bought off the internet shopping site eBay, and comes complete with a festive picture of Father Christmas holding a bottle fizzy pop. Barrie even festooned the sides of the scooter-come-truck with red-and-white flashing lights to look like the ones used on the real truck.

Once Barrie had completed his ten-wheeled miniature version of the truck, he took to the streets of his home town and county around Lincolnshire raising funds for Cancer Research. So far his fund raising efforts have collected over £3,500 and he hasn’t stopped yet!

Barrie retired from taxi driving a year ago, and has fought his own battle with Leukaemia over the past five years. His late wife Susan also died from mouth cancer back in 2010 at the age of 68, so he has been no stranger to the horrible disease.

Driven by his desire to raise money for Cancer Research, Barrie converted his late wife’s mobility scooter into the iconic Coca-Cola truck as a novel way to raise funds.

Last Christmas Barrie decorated the scooter to look like Santa’s Sleigh, but this year he was determined to do something much bigger. The miniature replica truck design has been a big hit with local children, and lots of people have been talking about it which helped spread the word around. Barrie even had local police officers having photographs taken with him and his scooter conversion. He commented to the local press that the response has been overwhelming, and it has made him feel like a celebrity despite only wanting to do something good for charity.

The idea for the mobility scooter conversion was initially so grand that Barrie didn’t think he could ever get it off the ground, but after approaching Coca-Cola with his novel idea, he was given the go-ahead by them and the project was set in motion. Barrie also approached businesses for their help, and all his efforts are helping to raise awareness of Leukaemia as well as raising money for essential research.