Do you remember your favorite childhood toys? Some kids leaned more toward cars, cards, and sports, while others preferred dolls, playsets, and crafts. You were likely a mix of both (as many children are), as it's through toys that we first begin to understand our tastes.
Toys are also where we begin to understand society as a whole. When we examine what types of people are represented within toys and which are omitted, a very clear imbalance starts to form. Thankfully, those tides are changing, with some dedicated parents at the helm.
Our childhood is the root of many things that continue to develop throughout our lives, even if we don't notice it day-to-day. This also includes some of the less-savory aspects of our lives, mental blocks we face today caused by trauma experienced in youth.
If you're facing struggles that you know are deeply rooted but aren't sure where to begin healing past them, start with this free quiz. It will help identify the sources of your troubles, reveal how much trauma has been poisoning your life, and give you the tools to rise above.
Very First Impressions
What a child plays with can have a massive impact on who they turn out to be. Early toy fascinations can grow into careers, while general playtime helps encourage imagination and develop crucial social skills like problem-solving, quick-thinking, and co-operation.
For some kids, their toys mean much more than that, especially when they get to see themselves represented in the toys they play with. Some children have a much harder time getting that opportunity, something that one mom is trying to change.
A Family, Made
Archer "Archie" Coffman is a young boy who recently got a big gift that will change the way he sees himself in toys forever. He was adopted by his mom, Niki Coffman, and her husband Andrew not long after he was born.
"I couldn't have a baby," Niki told Today. "I had surgery a couple of times and I was not interested in walking down the road of intense medical interventions."
Changing Of Hands
So they chose the path of adoption, and made great friends with Archer's birth mother, KKay, in the process. They still call KKay Archer's first mom because "she did so much more than give birth to him."
"She wasn't in a great spot and didn't have a lot of support, but she's an amazing mom," Niki explained. "There are few moments as devastating to me in my life as the moment she put him in our arms. It was so clear what it was costing her for our dreams to come true."
"She kissed his tiny little face and was whispering 'I'm sorry' over and over again. I'll never forget it."
Already, Archer's life was off to a loving and understanding start, for as sad as it was, KKay remains involved in his life when possible.
Niki considers this extremely positive for a few reasons, but one of them involves the fact that Archer is black while Niki, as well as her husband, is white. "And it's a complicated, huge responsibility when you're a white parent adopting a child of another race," Niki said.
"We knew that going in, and I knew how important it would be for us to make sure that he could see himself."
Hard To Spot
As he grew older, Archer and Niki noticed something. There weren't that many toys that reflected Archer's appearance. Not only is Archer black, but he also has naturally red hair, a rare combination to find in the toy aisle.
They made do with other black toys they could find, which was still pretty tough sometimes. For Archer's fifth birthday, Niki put out a call to other local parents to donate more diverse toys to Archer's preschool.
What she noticed is that many of the toys donated with Fisher-Price Little People, a figurine line that features a wide range of skin tones, hair textures, and even contains representation of disabled children.
"What is hard to find is a toy with brown skin and red hair," Niki says. "So I wrote to Fisher Price, thanked them profusely for the work they were doing and then left a P.S. that said something like: 'If you ever decided to design a Little Person with brown skin and red hair, please let us know.'"
Niki likely wasn't expecting a response, so imagine her surprise when the Vice President of Design at Fisher-Price, Gary Weber, reached out to her.
And A Genuine Response
"Your story has been shared with everyone who worked on the Little People figures you mentioned, and to say that it made our day would be an understatement," Weber wrote. "You and Archer have inspired us! We know that when kids play with Little People they are playing out scenarios they see in the world around them, and feeling like they are a part of that world is critical."
He then asked for her address so they could "make sure Archer and his school have the full representation of our Little People figures."
Not long after, the family received a package.
"There was a letter on top from The Little People team — a beautifully printed, framable letter and everyone in their department had signed it," Niki says. "Inside the box were perfectly packaged boxes that had a little Archer figure in it. They got the whole outfit perfect — the sweater, the green shorts, his little loafers. They got his hair perfect."
That's right, Fisher-Price had sent a whole box of custom Archer figures so they could share them with other kids at his school.
A Boy's Wish
"The amount of work and effort and care they put in to this toy was astounding," Niki said. "The thing that just keeps blowing my mind is the number of people who obviously worked on this...it's hard to describe how impactful it feels, to think of people I don't know in boardrooms somewhere looking at a picture of my kid and thinking: 'What else can we do?' Because as a mom I think about that every day: How else can I smooth the path for him?"
An employee at Fisher-Price even reached out to Niki on Instagram. "They wrote me to say: 'I have a Little Archer on my desk.' They literally ordered one for each of their staff."
The Reason For It All
A spokesperson for Fisher-Price also spoke to Today, sharing that Niki's message to the company was shared "throughout the company and it genuinely touched all of us."
"We felt such a sense of pride knowing how we had impacted this one family. How could anyone not be inspired by both Niki's letter and that beautiful photo of Archer? It means everything to us. That feeling of joy and excitement we see on every child’s face when interacting or playing with one of our toys is the reason we do what we do."
To Niki, this toy meant so much more than anyone at Fisher-Price could even begin to understand. Before this connection with the toy company happened, Archer knew he wasn't represented in any toy he saw.
"When there aren't toys like him, he asks why," Niki said. When Archer himself was asked how it feels to not see any toys that looked the same as him, he said it feels "not good."
"Everyone should have that. It makes them happy."
When the box full of little Archers came in the mail, it was a game changer.
Niki said, "I opened the box and started crying. Archer asked why. I said: 'Archer, they made you.' His little jaw dropped."
"He snatched the box out of my hands...whipped around and shouted: 'It's me! It's me!'" she continued. "He showed everyone. He didn't put (the toy) down all day."
This alone is proof enough that Niki's right, these toys represent much more than just playtime in a child's mind.
It Always Matters
"I need [kids] to have toys and books that look like Archer, because that's how they understand that brown skin isn't less than," she explained "And I'm in a really unique position as a white woman with a Black kid to help people understand why representation matters. Black parents are tired and they already know it's important."
Archer chose to donate quite a few of the figurines to his school, and still donates other Little People toys "with brown skin like me" to his school's toy collection. "I got an Archie Army."
This mom's proactive and grateful nature brought her a bountiful reward, something you can also draw into your life by using the Law of Attraction.
The Law of Attraction is a powerful force that can bring success, good luck, abundance, and joy into your orbit. However, you have to know how to use it properly if you want to reap the rewards. All it takes is watching one simple video to learn how to harness this ancient energy. Click here to get started today!