Opinion | Play culture: Conversations around inclusive toys need to be bigger and better

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Desriee Asomuyide is the founder and creator of the children’s brand Little Omo, an inclusive and multi cultural preschool brand that aims to encourage conversations around diversity and inclusivity within
the toy and play space. Here, she talks us through the importance of turning the volume right up on the diversity discussion

It’s no groundbreaking revelation that children learn best through play. Neither is it that the best way for parents to raise kind and multi-cultural children is by having the option of inclusive toys, books, and resources readily available to them.

It was with a tired frustration, then, that despite the acknowledgement of the importance of a diverse and inclusive toy box, the real options still remain few and far between. And it was from this that I created the brand, Little Omo, with the aim of creating products that represent children of colour, and help teach children to be culturally aware of others around them.

It was my son who was the inspiration behind Little Omo – the name Omo means ‘child’ in the Yoruba language spoken in the south west of Nigeria – as I wanted him to be able to learn and play with toys and resources that represented him and other children of colour. As a dark-skinned black woman, who has a first hand experience of colourism, I was very passionate about the range of flashcards I developed featuring a variety of skin complexions, facial features, and hair textures; representative of people from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures.

Children should be able to play with a toy or read a book and recognise a character that looks just like them, they shouldn’t feel excluded. If a child can see themselves in the mirror, from the colour of their skin to the texture of their hair, this should be replicated in all children’s spaces around the world. We live in a multicultural world but there is such a lack of products that represent children within the educational spaces and toy retailers.

“Inclusive toys need to be seen more; at trade shows, in magazines, and in toy shops around the world.”

Little Omo wants to continue spreading the importance of why inclusive toys need to be seen more in toy trade shows, magazines, and retailers; sharing how this can help the children of tomorrow grow and learn so much more from the toys they play with from a young age.

Since the launch of the Little Omo flashcards six months ago, the brand has sold more than 1,000 packs.
But this is just the beginning. There are so many future plans for Little Omo and we are working behind the scenes on creating more educational games, development and fun role play products.

The vision we have is that one day we see our products stocked in a variety of UK department stores and toy retailers. Brand awareness is a big focus at Little Omo, as it’s essential for us to make a social impact and change the current situation that’s at hand – a very real lack of inclusive toys for children.

So, there are no groundbreaking revelations here, just the need to see better and bigger conversations around inclusive toys for children taking place, the desire for more toy buyers to carry out more extensive research to uncover brands that focus on inclusivity, and to see more of them line the halls of exhibition stands at trade shows. Because they are out there.

Desriee Asomuyide is the founder and creator of Little Omo, a preschool brand that celebrates diversity and multi-culturalism by reflecting the lives of children today back at them through play

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