Most little girls enjoy dolls. Ariella Pacheco, now 17 years old, did not develop in any way that stood out from the crowd as she was growing up.
Pacheco picked out an American Girl doll for herself that looked like it could have been her sister. This is because children have a tendency to form stronger bonds with dolls that resemble them.
“She looked like me and I thought there was a bit of me in her,” Pacheco, who is now a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School, told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Pacheco is quoted in the article as saying that she felt “there was a piece of me in her.” When you look at a doll, you see a reflection of yourself in it; this kind of connection is really meaningful.
Children are able to find solace and a sense of connection when they interact with dolls that mirror their own physical image as well as their racial and cultural heritage.
However, until recently, it was difficult to find diversity while shopping for dolls of this kind.
Despite the fact that over the past few years, mass-market options have gotten increasingly inclusive, there are still certain demographic subsets that are not catered to.
If a child has a rare medical condition that makes them look different from other people, there is a very slim to none chance that they will be able to find a toy that looks like them in a store or even online.
Pacheco was the one who came up with the idea, and he was aware of how crucial it may be for a youngster to make that really personal connection.
Pacheco came up with the idea for her school’s National Honor Society chapter’s yearly community service project after being motivated by the work of Amy Jandrisevits, a doll designer from Milwaukee whose “A Doll Like Me” project creates one-of-a-kind dolls for children with special needs.
Pacheco decided that she would design and sew one-of-a-kind dolls to give to children who suffered from rare medical conditions.
Pacheco collaborated with the nonprofit organization Fresh Start Surgical Gifts in Carlsbad, California, to find the children she hoped to create one-of-a-kind dolls for. Fresh Start Surgical Gifts is a charitable organization that offers free medical and surgical treatment to children who are in need of it.
Pacheco was provided with photographs and detailed personality profiles of a number of possible doll subjects drawn from the clientele of Fresh Start. She chose to focus on these four candidates in the end.
One of the dolls that she designed has a port-wine birthmark, another has surgical scars, a fourth has jaw alignment abnormalities, and the fifth has both facial and cranial deformities.
The finished product left Fresh Start’s chief development officer, Michelle Pius, feeling “blown away” by its quality. She stated that it was a very kind and big-hearted act on her part to make dolls that will assist a child feel as though they are not alone. “It will help a youngster feel like they are not alone,” she said.
Before getting started, Pacheco searched YouTube for instructions on sewing and pattern-making, and she also did some research on the hobbies and color palettes that were most popular with the people she was going to dress.
She wanted the children to recognize themselves in her work, but she didn’t want the characteristics that marked them different from their classmates to be the most prominent trait of the dolls she designed for them to play with.
According to Pacheco, “throughout the entire process, I was trying to put as much love into it as I could and hoped that they reflected each child faithfully.” “I really appreciate the beauty that may be found in the smallest of things.
Each of these children is so exceptional, so one of a kind… I have high hopes that kids will be able to gain a fresh perspective on their own beauty as a result of playing with these dolls.