Not all family members match each other. Now kids can get adorable toys that reflect their reality.

MyFamilyBuilders allows kids to literally build their family members.

Cute! Photos courtesy of MyFamilyBuilders, used with permission.


Not all families look alike — yet toys often do.

How would our world change if kids could put together characters that accurately represent the people in their actual families?

They'll soon be able to do just that — and easily — thanks to this new toy set that's not only fun, but kind of revolutionary. Each set of toys comes with 48 magnetized wooden pieces that can be taken apart and put together in whatever configuration the child chooses.

Easy as 1-2-3!

Kids can create families that look like this:

Or this:

And a whole lot more!

The idea struck Ez Karpf a year ago when he and his wife were shopping for gifts for their friends' children.

"Our friends have a multiracial family, and I just assumed I would be able to find a family doll set that resembled my friends' family," he told me.

That's when he discovered what most "nontraditional families" already know: It's nearly impossible to find toys like that at most mainstream retailers. After hitting the doll aisle in several stores, Karpf and his wife came up empty-handed.

That got Karpf thinking: It wasn't just this one family he was having a hard time finding a gift for. There were no dolls that would work for another friend's two-dad family or his cousin's single-parent family.

The lack of diversity in dolls doesn't make sense because families are most certainly not one-size-fits-all.

Karpf says he came across an endless array of "standard" family doll sets — a mom, a dad, a boy, and a girl, all the same color. But what do actual American families look like? Consider the following:

Karpf was determined to provide kids with toys that reflect their realities because he knows playtime is about more than just play.

"The way children explore, experiment, understand, and make sense of the world is through play," Karpf told me. "They also learn cultural meanings through play."

Karpf talked about the situation with his friends. As he explained to me:

"We talked about how odd it was not be able to buy these toys for kids. We know that kids construct the idea of families at a young age, and we thought that if we could teach kids to celebrate love and the values shared by all families, regardless of color, creed, sexual orientation, or culture, maybe there wouldn't be so much evidence of hatred in the future."

So he and his friends set out to do something about it.

They teamed up to take action, and MyFamilyBuilders was born.

The toys are cute, easy to use, durable, and — most importantly — inclusive.

The set also includes a game for building all different types of families, including those with a mom, a dad, a brother, and a sister who all match.

Representation matters!

It's important for children to be able to play with dolls and toys that reflect themselves and their families, but it's good for all kids to have toys showing them that families come in all kinds of configurations.

Right now, says Karpf, most toys refer to a heterosexual world with pre-established roles in the family. But what if every child had access to a toy like MyFamilyBuilders — a toy that promotes diversity, equality, and creativity? That, says Karpf, "is totally revolutionary and innovative. It opens the possibility to think about the world in a different way."

What if toys like these could become mainstream? Let the toy revolution begin!


These toys are for all kids! if you love them, you can order a set and support the Kickstarter — which has already been fully funded (so these toys will be made!) — by visiting the site.

And maybe, jusssstttt maybe, toys like this will start showing up in the stores we frequent, where kids can find them right on the shelves!

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

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A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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