(Image Courtesy American Girl)
She looks just like me.
She’s a super hero just like me.
She’s fast and strong just like me.
She has diabetes just like me.
Sophia Goes to the Endocrinologist
Q has long role-played with her American Girl dolls. Her doll Sophia also has diabetes. Q pours over each catalog looking to see if they have a medical ID bracelet that we can order for Sophia. Not only did Q get her wish for an ID bracelet, but AG developed an entire Diabetes Care Kit!
Q was beyond thrilled when the package arrived in the mail and she began unpacking it’s tiny contents. She quickly outfitted Sophia with a pump, slid the bracelet on her wrist, and checked her blood sugar. Q noticed the small details that make the items realistic and familiar.
American Girl introduced the Diabetes Care Kit for dolls on January 1 online and in stores. The kit retails for $24 and includes the following:
- Blood sugar monitor
- Insulin pump
- Insulin pen
- Medical bracelet
- Glucose tablets
- Log book
- I.D. Card
- Carrying Case
(Image Courtesy American Girl)
Stephanie Spanos, a spokesperson for American Girl said that “American Girl has a long-standing commitment to creating products that girls in various circumstances can identify with—from our Dolls Without Hair and Hearing Aids to our iconic Wheelchair that’s been in our line for nearly 20 years, to name just a few! We’re very proud of our positive reputation for inclusiveness and we remain committed to exploring and expanding in this important area. The new Diabetes Care Kit and Arm Crutches are further evidence of our ongoing efforts in this area.
We deeply appreciate the enthusiasm and trust our fans have in us to create a particular product, and we continue to receive hundreds of passionate requests for specific dolls, stories, or accessories to be created. While we know each request is important, at this time (as in years past) we are unable to accept product ideas or guarantee when, or if, a particular product will be developed. That said, our design teams are constantly exploring new ways to enhance our doll lines with items that resonate with girls on a variety of levels. Girls inspire us every day, and we look forward to creating new products, stories, and experiences that celebrate the countless unique qualities in all of them.”
(Image Courtesy American Girl)
Did you know that not only did American Girl work with a panel of doctors, nurses, and dieticians from American Family Children’s Hospital on the Diabetes Care kit, but that it was designed by Matt Wahmhoff from AG’s Product Development Team who himself lives with type 1 diabetes? Matt was kind enough to indulge me in a Q&A.
D-Mom: At what age were you diagnosed with diabetes? Tell me the story of your diagnosis.
MW: I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 11. Luckily for me, my mother was a nurse. She noticed that my appetite had increased significantly. She also noticed that I had been using the bathroom too frequently, especially in the middle of the night. She took me to my doctor and blood work was done, which revealed an extremely high blood sugar! I was told that I have diabetes. My mom took me out for lunch before heading to the hospital to be admitted. I knew next to nothing about diabetes. At lunch, I thought I could use this situation as an opportunity to get a milkshake with my meal, as a special treat! My mom explained that with diabetes, my diet has to change significantly, and because of that, I could not have that milkshake I so wanted. That was the point when I knew this was serious and my life would change.
D-Mom: How do you manage your diabetes?
MW: Currently, I manage my diabetes with fast-acting multiple insulin injections throughout the day, and then a long-acting insulin at night. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t made the leap to a pump just yet, but I do plan to in the future.
D-Mom: Is the American Girl Diabetes Care Kit the first diabetes related item that you have had the opportunity to design?
D-Mom: Have you worked on AG’s other inclusive toys such as the hearing aids, arm crutches, doll without hair?
MW: I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in the development aspects of other toys, such as casts, crutches, as well as the Healthy Smiles set. The set includes the cutest orthodontic headgear, stick-on braces, a retainer, and an electronic tooth brush for your doll.
D-Mom: Do you think that living with diabetes has given you the ability to relate to kids with different disabilities or medical conditions and gives you a unique perspective when designing accessories for AG dolls?
MW: Definitely. For diabetes, I fully understand what it takes, on daily basis, to manage this condition. I can manage it in the back of my mind during much of the day, but it’s a constant monitoring of myself, and making decisions on what to do based on my learnings. It presents all kinds of daily, even hourly challenges and decisions that many people do not have to deal with. The funny thing with diabetes, is that we don’t really look any different. That makes it even more difficult for many non-diabetic people to understand what you are dealing with every day of your life. Everyone has challenges and everyone’s challenges are different. I always try to keep that in mind, and I think having diabetes allows me to better understand just how much disabilities and medical conditions, can impact and change a person’s life.
D-Mom: How did your own diabetes inform the design of the Diabetes Care Kit and the items included? My daughter immediately noticed some of the little details that make the items relevant to her diabetes management including the spring-loaded lancing device, the insulin cartridge in the pump which she says looks like there’s actually insulin in it, and the log book which is very similar to ones she has used.
MW: That makes me so happy to hear your daughter appreciated those little details. They were very important to me, as well! The spring-loaded feature in the lancet device was a function we needed to get right, because just touching the device to a doll’s finger would not have been realistic enough. Due to a variety of reasons, we are not always able to achieve every detail we want, but in this case, I feel like my history with diabetes allowed me to get the important details right.
D-Mom: My daughter was diagnosed at three. Her AG doll that looks like her, which she named Sophia, was also diagnosed with diabetes. Sophia has accompanied her to endocrinology visits and uses some of my daughter’s supplies to manage her diabetes. It’s great that Sophia finally has her own Diabetes Care Kit specially designed for her. As a child, were there any toys available to you that were aimed at children with diabetes? Did any of your stuffed animals or action figures also have diabetes?
MW: No, but in hindsight, it would’ve been cool if Luke Skywalker had been diagnosed with diabetes. An on-board glucose monitor in his lightsaber would’ve been over the top!
D-Mom: Just a side note, you should have seen the sparkle in my daughter’s eyes as she opened the box. This kit is spot on! Thank you so much for designing a kit for kids living with diabetes…and for kids who might have a parent, sibling, friend, or classmate living with diabetes. Because type 1 diabetes can be isolating for school aged children, that American Girl recognizes them helps to normalize their medical condition and the kit will allow so many children the opportunity to role play through your toys.
MW: This is what makes me happy. I know how hard it is to live with diabetes, and kids who are doing it are amazing! To be able to see photos of kids with the biggest smiles on their face, while holding their diabetic dolls is fantastic, and it’s the ultimate compliment. I am truly thankful to work for a company like American Girl, that has the ability to impact girl’s lives in so many different ways. To be able to have that kind of impact on so many kids with diabetes is amazing.
Thank you, Matt, for taking the time to answer my questions and give us a little more insight into the development of the Diabetes Care Kit and your own life with diabetes.
You can purchase the Diabetes Care Kit from American Girl online and in stores for $24.
Look for another post from us including a video and photos of Q’s doll using the Diabetes Care Kit.
You Might Also Like…
More posts about product reviews
More posts about American Girl
Disclosure: American Girl provided us with a Diabetes Care Kit. Monetary compensation was not received for the review and opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure statement.
All images provided by American Girl.