A Cork charity has welcomed the news that a new doll with Down Syndrome (DS) has gone on sale here.
The Head of Services for Down Syndrome Cork, Amanda Cooper, has described the new Barbie doll as "so important for representation".
“The new doll gives our individuals a chance to see themselves reflected in a positive way," she said. "It's not stereotyping, and it highlights the fact that we are all unique.
"It helps to show more diversity and acceptance and when you when you look to promote diversity, it helps to build knowledge and understanding."
Toy company Mattel worked closely with the USA's National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to design the doll, which is now available to order from Smyths across the country.
Ms Cooper welcomed the new toy and commended the major toy franchise for work towards inclusivity for those with DS.
“The Barbie doll is such a big, iconic toy as well," she said. "It’s well known everywhere. I think every girl had a Barbie doll. To use something like the Barbie doll, to use it in a positive way, it helps all our members towards inclusion for both our members and their families.”
Launching the doll, Mattel has said that it is “designed to reflect the world kids see today".
Ms Cooper believes the new toy can have a positive impact on the next generation.
“Children are more receptive to learning from a young age," she said. "When they are taught at a young age to accept differences, it’s not an issue when they become older. I think all schools should be building knowledge on disabilities.
"If you teach children young, that it's OK to be different, it's OK to be unique, they are then more accepting as they grow."
Meaningful symbols are incorporated throughout the doll’s outfit, such as butterflies -- which are a symbol of Down syndrome -- and the blue and yellow colour palette, which represents Down syndrome awareness.
Her pink pendant necklace has three arrows to represent the third 21st chromosome that individuals with Down syndrome have, and they point outwards to represent rising up and moving forward.
The Barbie dolls pink ankle foot orthoses (AFOs), which match her outfit perfectly and support her as she walks, are similar to those often used by children with DS.
Currently Down Syndrome Cork (DSC), the biggest branch of Down Syndrome Ireland in the country, helps 400 members and their families.
DSC has three locations in Cork which are primarily kept running through support from local fundraising and offers services from early years to the training of adults with Down Syndrome for employment.