Moving America Forward

Playing with Purpose: Toys That Encourage Girl Power

May 23, 2014
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Playing with Purpose: Toys That Encourage Girl Power
A line of action figures from IAmElemental. IAmElemental
A new company creates action figures that help young children change the world.

If you want children to change the world, it makes good sense to plant inspiration in something they’re already familiar with: toys.

That’s the strategy new company IAmElemental is taking with a series of action figure toys for girls. Their debut set, which just completed a successful Kickstarter fundraising round, is centered around courage. Each of the action figures within the collection embraces a different aspect of courage, such as bravery, industry and persistence, among others. IAmElemental takes it a step further by assigning each toy an “element” logo from a courage-themed periodic table.

“Our mission is to create toys for play experiences that allow girls to envision themselves as strong, powerful and connected beings at the center of a story of their own making,” write co-founders Julie Kerwin and Dawn Nadeau on their site. “We believe that when we tap into the power that exists inside us all, the extraordinary is always possible.”

The two mothers decided to launch IAmElemental after years of being disappointed by the toy options that lined store shelves, where action heroes and trucks are often reserved for boys, while girls can choose from Barbies and miniature kitchen sets. And they’re certainly not alone: both critics and parents alike have spoken out against sexism in toys, and the manner in which toys are marketed to boys and girls. And while each toy has a character trait assigned to it, Kerwin and Nadeau hope that kids will ultimately create their own superhero storyline to go with each product, and that the toys serve as a launching pad for young children to create their own change in the world.

Kerwin and Nadeau created IAmElemental to fill a void of inspirational action figure toys for girls, but they don’t want their toys to be exclusive to young women. The company is encouraging young girls and boys to submit pictures of themselves holding signs of their own elemental power as a way to spread heroic stories and foster a sense of community around like-minded young children.

Young superheroes can share their pictures and stories here.

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