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Girl, 10, With Muscular Dystrophy Calls For Disabled American Girl Doll

Thu, January 2, 2014 10:31am EDT by Kristine Kowalski 3 Comments
American Girl Melissa Shang
Courtesy of YouTube

Melissa Shang, 10, hopes to tell her story of overcoming struggles with muscular dystrophy through an American Girl character. She is petitioning the iconic brand to feature a doll with disabilities as the Girl Of The Year 2015, to educate other young girls and celebrate other girls like her.

Melissa Shang, 10, suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and wants to tell her story through the inspiring and educational American Girl dolls. The well-spoken young girl from Paoli, PA is petitioning Mattel, the brand’s owner, to make their Girl Of The Year 2015 a doll in a wheelchair to educate young girls about the struggles that come with living with physical disabilities.

American Girl: Melissa Shang Petitions Mattel For Doll Of Year With Disabilities

Like so many young girls throughout the years, Melissa has been inspired by American Girl dolls since being introduced to them, and has found the characters’ stories to help her learn about histories, cultures, and activities she never would have otherwise be exposed to. She and her sister, YingYing feel that a character who thrives despite physical disabilities would be a great addition to American Girl’s brand.

“Every year, American Girl introduces a brand-new character with a story about finding success in the face of challenges today. Girls of the Year come from all different places, from Hawaii to New Mexico, and they help girls learn what it’s like to be someone else,” she wrote on her petition page. “Through Saige, I learned what it’s like to be an artist and horseback rider. Through McKenna, I learned what it’s like to be a gymnast. Girls of the Year have helped me understand how it feels to be someone else.”

Now, Melissa wants others to learn about the struggles girls with conditions like hers face, and help normalize her story. Melissa’s petition has gained over 12,500 signatures from supporters!

Girl Hopes American Girl Will Show Struggles Of Disabled Girls

Melissa has praised American Girl for featuring unique and diverse characters, and hopes that her own story will one day be included — and celebrated.

“For once, I don’t want to be invisible or a side character that the main American Girl has to help,” Melissa wrote. “I want other girls to know what it’s like to be me, through a disabled American Girl’s story.”

What do YOU think, HollyMoms? Do you think American Girl should feature a doll with disabilities?

— Kristine Hope Kowalski

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