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!

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."