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Disabled girl petitions American Girl to name a doll with a disability 'Girl of the Year'

Posted by Kristi Palma  December 30, 2013 12:58 PM

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Melissa Shang is on a mission to see a disabled American Girl doll named the 2015 "Girl of the Year," which she writes about in a petition she started on Change.org.

Like many little girls, Melissa loves American Girl dolls, a sentiment she writes about in her petition. She says that she has read all of the "American Girl" books, seen all of the movies, and finds the dolls' stories inspiring.

Now it's her turn to inspire.

Melissa, 10, from Pennsylvania, is disabled. She has Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a form of Muscular Dystrophy, and uses a wheelchair to get around. She can't run or go ice-skating like other girls her age.

"Disabled girls are American girls too," she says in the following YouTube clip, posted by her sister YingYing.

In the clip, she holds her new American Girl doll, Sage.


"Of all the American Girl dolls, my favorites are the Girl of the Years," writes Melissa in the petition, titled "American Girl: Release an American Girl with a disability." "Every year, American Girl introduces a brand-new character with a story about finding success in the face of challenges today."

"None of the American Girl Girls of the Year are like me," she writes. "None of them have a disability."

Her petition, directed toward Jean McKenzie, president of American Girl and executive vice president of Mattel, has been signed by more than 3,500 people.

"I want other girls to know what it's like to be me, through a disabled American Girl's story," writes Melissa.

American Girl has created dolls with ethnic and religious differences, as well as dolls that are bald, with hearing aids, and even allergies.

Melissa's petition is on Change.org.

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Kristi Palma, Boston.com Moms producer, is the mom of a first grader and a preschooler. She is a writer who enjoys cooking her grandmother's Italian recipes (when her son isn't launching paper airplanes into them). Follow her on Twitter @kristipalma.
Jennifer Clark Estes is a teacher, writer, blogger, and the mother of four young children. In her free time, she blogs at A Mom's World, plays with the kids (or chauffeurs them around), and is desperately seeking a quiet spot so she can read a book. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferCEstes.
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