Episode 10 Let’s ALL Play!

Episode 10 Let’s ALL Play!


Welcome to Episode number ten. 10 is a fitting number; one that we often associate with perfection. Yet, in keeping with this week’s theme, Ellen asks, “why can’t we be perfectly imperfect? Let’s embrace and accept each other for who we are and who we are meant to be. That is a perfect 10!”

That question led us to our first guest, Kim Culmone, SVP Global Head of Design of Barbie and all fashion dolls for Mattel Inc. Kim, and her team have recently reinvented the Barbie design to represent all body types, ethnicities, and abilities.

Kim began with an exercise and asked us to envision the image we get when we hear the word Barbie? Today, Barbie not only looks like that iconic image that many conjure, but so much more.

Kim shared with us that Barbie has been around for 62 years. Considering that a successful toy brand usually only lasts a few years, this is quite a remarkable feat. But in order to maintain such a legacy, toys need to adapt and embrace change. They must truly be reflective of the world around us and those who play with these toys. Kim believes that everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in toys; body types need to change, Ethnic diversity must be represented as does ability and diversity.

With that in mind, the Barbie image has now been redefined. This process began 7 years ago, after listening to kids and parents, consulting people with various abilities and listening to their feedback. The goal was to “inspire limitless potential in EVERY kid.”  This transformation is chronically captured in the documentary film, ‘Tiny Shoulders’.

It is Kim’s hope that other companies will also become more inclusive and diverse; while many are, others still need to do so. For example, Nike has now developed a new shoe that is more functionally accessible, called Fly-Ease.  Good design can help change the world for everyone. Kim’s final message was whatever it is that is unique about you, is how you should be! Consumers should use their voice and their actions; buying products that are aligned with their own values.

Next, we met someone truly special, 8-year-old Shining Star, Gabe. Like most boys his age, Gabe likes to sing, read, and play and he told us so, himself. He also told us that he is an Ambassador at Holland Bloorview which advocates for kids with disabilities. His mother, Fabiana continued sharing Gabe’s story. Born four months prematurely, Gabe endured much illness as a baby. Yet, his mother found much gratitude even through her struggles. It was gratitude that changed her entire perspective.

Gabe’s first year of life brought on many respiratory infections, leading to isolation, and contending with ongoing doctor appointments. At the age of 2, the family learned that Gabe had Cerebral Palsy (CP). CP affects muscles and motor skills. Over the years, Gabe has used his determination and strong will to overcome many challenges. He currently uses a wheelchair for mobility and an eye gaze computer to assist him to read and write. He wants to do things like every other child, and he sure does!

Gabe loves to be included in games, and video game play. He only feels excluded when things are not accessible. He even has his own adapted skateboard and sings weekly at Jake’s Jam. His overall wish is that you always find something to be grateful for even when facing difficult challenges.

Inclusiveness means making things like toys more accessible and representing everyone who plays with these toys. Think of Gabe, think of others, be kind and that is when we will be able to strive for true perfection.

Our incredible musical performance was provided by CZN, a local group who recently won Canada’s Got Talent. They performed their latest single called, “Dreams” and shared their fitting message that everyone is here for a reason, so dream your dream and never give up!

To complete the show, Kindness Corner with Lindsay @one2giveto informed us of their current sock fundraising blitz, in support of ‘Seeds of Hope’. This organization helps different homeless shelters around Toronto to protect, feed and cloth people living on the street. With COVID-19 restrictions, banning the use of most indoor spaces, many homeless are left without a place to shelter from the cold. Just one pair of socks can make a big difference!

Thank you to all our guests for making this Episode a perfect 10!