Play is important for kids. It allows children to develop cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills while engaging creatively. But it’s not just how kids play that’s important, what they play with also matters. Which is why Michelle Tynski, mom to nine-year-old Trace, Benjamin who passed away in 2016, and 3-year-old Zach, who has Type 1 SMA, took interest in Zach’s favorite toys and the message they were conveying.
These toys included a Fisher-Price® Little People® yellow school bus in smaller, more portable, and larger, push and pull versions. Michelle was drawn to the buses because they each featured a figurine in a wheelchair. The figurines were meant to click into place in the school bus seats to be transported on an adventure.
As Zach started playing with his bus toys, Michelle quickly noticed an issue. The figurine in the wheelchair didn’t lock into place like the other kids, meaning he was knocked back and forth in the bus when it went into motion. This is also when Michelle went into motion to share her concern.
In January 2021, Michelle posted this message to her TikTok and Facebook accounts: “I need to address something to Fisher-Price. While I am happy and thrilled that you included figures in your toys for disabled children to be more inclusive, there is something about this toy that seems a little off. Notice how all the other characters fit into this bus nicely, and while there is space for the handicapped child, look what happens when you try to move the bus.”
Michelle then displayed for her followers what happened to the little boy in the wheelchair when she moved the toy. While Michelle’s TikTok and Facebook posts are generally meant for friends and family, her TikTok racked up hundreds of comments and more than 11,000 views.
Despite these views and comments, Michelle said she didn’t link much of it. “I was just a mom advocating for my child.” That was, until March 2021 when she received a comment on her Facebook post from Fisher-Price asking if they could connect her with a member of their product development team.
Michelle then followed up with Fisher-Price. They thanked her for sharing her concern and said they made improvements to the toys that would be rolled out during mid-summer 2021. “They’re changing their toys because I said something!” Michelle shared in a follow up video to friends, family, and other followers.
In July 2021, Michelle and Zach were sent demo toys of updated school buses and an airplane featuring the figurine in the wheelchair, who now locks securely into place for safe travel, just like all the other figurines. Fisher-Price also sent the Tynskis a newly created figurine of a little girl in a wheelchair that also neatly locks in place as a school bus or airplane passenger.
Zach took to his new toys right away and Michelle was just as thrilled. In a Facebook message she shared, “Thank you so much Fisher-Price. You have made such an impact in our home. This is what disability inclusion looks like!”
If you’d like to purchase any of the updated Fisher-Price toys, you can buy several of them on Amazon:
- Fisher-Price Little People Big Yellow Bus, musical push and pull toy with Smart Stages for toddlers and preschool kids
- Fisher-Price Little People Josh & Mia Figures
If you purchase from Amazon, don’t forget to shop with Amazon Smile! After signing in, choose Cure SMA as your selected charity and Amazon will donate a percentage of your purchase to Cure SMA. Make sure to bookmark this link to ensure that each time you make a purchase, Amazon Smile donates to Cure SMA.
Thank you to Michelle for sharing your story and for advocating for our community!