Each year American Girl® releases a Limited Edition doll that they have coined the Girl of the Year. This year, people with hearing loss have a lot to celebrate, as Joss Kendrick™ has been named “Girl of the Year™.” Besides being a cheerleader and surfer, what makes Joss special is that she wears a hearing aid.
Joss isn’t just a doll; she’s an inspirational character. When American Girl® (AG™) rolls out new dolls, each one represents a historical period, culture or has some attribute that teaches children about diversity. For example, Josefina’s™ story takes place in 1824 in what today is New Mexico. Kit Kittredge™ represents the 1930’s, and her story tells of life when her father loses his job during the depression. They also have a series of dolls called Truly Me™ (formerly known as “Just Like Me”) where children can purchase dolls that resemble themselves.
With Joss’ entrance to the AG™ family, girls all over the world will be exposed to a modern-day role model who happens to have hearing loss. Joss is a girl whose brother challenges her to expand her interests from surfing to cheerleading. This pushes her to try new things that are outside of her comfort zone. In fact, despite her hearing loss Joss’ dream is to become an Olympic surfer one day. It’s clear that hearing loss won’t not stop her from reaching her goals!
Since 1986, American Girl has sold more than 32 million American Girl dolls.¹ Although this is their first featured doll with hearing loss, any AG™ doll can have hearing aids. Hearing aids can be ordered through the website or by visiting an American Girl hospital at one of their retail locations. That way, any child with hearing loss can have a doll that resembles them.
As part of their launch, Mattel, AG’s parent company, announced they would donate $25,000 to the Hearing Loss Association of America² (the Campaign for Better Hearing has also partnered with HLAA as a Silver Sponsor for it’s 2019 Walk4Hearing program).
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 2-3 of 1,000 children³ in the United States are born with hearing loss in one or both ears.