Chloe Newman was born without her right leg, due to a rare condition known as Amniotic Band Syndrome. As a lifelong prosthetic user, the 18-year-old knows firsthand how isolating the experience can be for kids. For that reason, she has donated more than 400 Barbie dolls with prosthetic legs to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Newman herself received treatment for years at the Massachusetts hospital. She says she wanted to give the hospital’s current patients something that would help them feel less alone.
“I think [the patients] would feel better about themselves,” Newman told WWLP about her motivation for donating the dolls. “That they would see, ‘Wow, they are making a Barbie like me, so why should I be ashamed of myself if there’s now toys like me?'”
Check out a video about Newman’s donation posted to Facebook by Shriners Hospitals for Children:
In the video, viewers learn more about how Newman and her family amassed their large collection of dolls. In addition to purchasing as many as they could find on their own, they also took to social media to ask friends and family to buy even more dolls for the cause, promising to pay them back in full. Donations began pouring in, though no one asked to be reimbursed for their purchase.
Word of Newman’s campaign eventually made its way to Mattel, and the company donated 200 of its Barbie Fashionista 121 dolls as well.
Now that she’s collected more than 400, the hospital is sharing them with children at other Shriners’ facilities. According to a press release, the dolls will act as tools in therapeutic education and medical play for kids facing amputation.
Mattel has also created a Barbie who uses a wheelchair:
“A wheelchair or doll in a wheelchair was one of the most requested items through our consumer hotline,” Kim Culmone, Mattel’s vice president of Barbie Design, told Teen Vogue. “It’s important to us to listen to our consumers.”
What do you think of these new Barbie dolls?