American Girl's newest doll accessory is about so much more than toys.

Two years ago, Anja Busse, then 11, created a video and online petition urging popular toymaker American Girl to add a little something to its lineup of toy offerings.

Three months earlier, Anja had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to stop producing insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugars. Without replacing insulin, either via multiple daily injections or an insulin pump, a Type 1 diabetic like Anja will die.


Anja with one of her two American Girl dolls. Photos courtesy of Ingrid Bussy, used with permission.

And while Anja loved her American Girl dolls, she wanted them to be more like her. Specifically, Anja wanted to have for her dolls the very things that literally keep her alive, like an insulin pump and blood-testing meter.

It's a big adjustment to be diagnosed with a life-altering disease as a child.

I know because I was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 9 years old. One minute, I was packing for my first week away from home: sleep-away Girl Scout camp. The next minute, plans changed and I was packing for a week at the hospital. While I was supposed to be doing fun camp stuff like riding horses, doctors at the hospital were figuring out how much insulin I'd need to survive and teaching my parents and I how to avoid possible long-term complications like blindness and kidney failure.

It's possible to live very well with Type 1 diabetes, but it's a challenge for a young child to transition into this new life.

Anything that helps make that easier on a child is always welcome, and for many kids who like dolls, it's natural to want their dolls to reflect their reality.

Anja's petition received over 4,000 signatures and some media attention, but not much happened ... until two weeks ago, when American Girl released a diabetes care kit!

Post from Diabetic American Girl, Anja and Ingrid's Facebook page that supported her petition. Used with permission.

The new American Girl Diabetes Care Kit includes all the things a Type 1 diabetic needs: a blood sugar monitor, lancing device, insulin pump, insulin pen, medical bracelet, glucose tablets, log book, ID card, stickers, and carrying case.

Product photos provided by American Girl, used with permission.

Anja was thrilled.

"I'm so excited!!! I feel like this is something that will really help diabetic kids cope with this disease and make them not feel alone," she said as her mom, Ingrid Busse, and I chatted over Facebook for this story.

Anja and her American Girl doll, complete with her new diabetic accessories.

And she wasn't the only one!

Lots of parents shared photos on Anja and Ingrid's Facebook page of their adorable kids who have Type 1 diabetes with their newly accessorized dolls:

Photos originally posted by the Diabetic American Girl Facebook page (run by Anja's mom, Ingrid) with permission of the photo owners, shared here with Ingrid's permission.

"We are so excited that diabetic kids will be able to walk into any American Girl doll store now and be able to see and buy a doll that truly looks like them," Ingrid said.

The new kits are wonderful for the kids, but they're also great for teaching others about the challenges children with Type 1 diabetes face.

One thing Ingrid would like everyone to know is that there's no cure for her daughter's disease.

"The majority of people don't know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and [there] are a lot of misconceptions," she told me. "People tell us that she got it from eating too much sugar or that they know of a diet that will cure it. ... To survive, [Type 1 diabetics] need to prick their fingers six to ten times a day, count the carbs in everything they eat so they take the right amount of insulin, and take insulin injections four to six times a day or via an insulin pump that is attached to them."

With any luck, these new toys will be beneficial to both the kids who have the disease and those around them.

This isn't the first time American Girl has made an effort to create toys for kids facing differences or challenges.

They've made several accessories, like a hearing aid:

And arm crutches:

And even a lunch kit for kids with food allergies:

American Girl also created a line of dolls without hair, which could be comforting to children who have lost their hair to chemotherapy.

It's easy to roll our eyes and say kids don't need toys that are just like them.

But the truth is that having their real lives reflected by their toys is a big deal for a lot of kids — and it's a big deal for everyone else, too.

The challenges kids face are sometimes made just a tiny bit easier when their dolls can experience them, too. Take Jerrensia, for example. This vivacious 6-year-old uses arm crutches to walk with her prosthetic legs.

Jerrensia in the American Girl store, where she did some shopping as part of her sixth birthday celebration. Photos by Jen Kroll, shared with her permission.

Jerrensia's mom Jen Kroll's Facebook post about a Target ad showing a child using arm braces went viral late last year. Jerrensia was excited to see a child just like herself in an advertisement. Jen was excited for others to have the opportunity to see a child like Jerrensia in an advertisement.

At the time, Jen told me every step that makes the challenges children face when they have special needs and different abilities more mainstream is a big deal. American Girl dolls are widely known and loved, so how great is it for everyone to see these differences?

When I brought the arm braces for American Girl dolls to her attention, Jen was in tears. Jerrensia is a big American Girl fan (as you can see in these photos!), and having a big part of herself reflected in her toy means the world to Jerrensia.

And that right there is reason enough to appreciate these options.

It's exciting to see that toy manufacturers are listening to consumers.

"We’re thrilled with the reaction that we’re hearing from our young fans and their parents," Stephanie Spanos from American Girl wrote to me via email about the response the diabetic kit has drawn.

While nobody from American Girl reached out to Anja or Ingrid, I think it's safe to say that companies are taking notice of consumers' desires. And I know American Girl dolls are pricey and out of many families' budgets, but what if all toymakers got on board with offering more options?

We can all take a page out of Anja Busse's book and do our best to make our voices heard!

Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

True

This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

Few child actors ever get to star in an award-winning film, much less win a prestigious award for their performance. That fact appeared to hit home for 8-year-old Alan Kim, as he broke down in tears accepting his Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor/Actress, making for one of the sweetest moments in awards show history.

Kim showed up to the awards (virtually, of course) decked out in a tuxedo, and his parents had even laid out a red carpet in their entryway to give him a taste of the real awards show experience. When his name was announced as the Critics' Choice winner for his role in the film "Minari," his reaction was priceless.

Grinning from ear to ear, Kim started off his acceptance speech by thanking "the critics who voted" and his family. But as soon as he started naming his family members, he burst into tears. "Oh my goodness, I'm crying," he said. Through sobs, he kept going with his list, naming members of the cast, the production company, and the crew that worked on the film.

"I hope I will be in other movies," he added. Then, the cutest—he pinched his own cheeks and asked, "Is this a dream? I hope it's not a dream."

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Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

True

This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

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It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

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