Dwarfism: what a Lego figure taught me about power

“You’re attention-seeking!”, “these characters are fictitious!”, “they’ve existed for years!”. These were some of the charges levelled at us this summer when we spoke out about an ‘Evil Dwarf’ collectors card, based on the popular LEGO figures. Here I must express an interest: I am the charity’s Vice-Chair and have dwarfism myself. From that position I feel it’s important I address these criticisms – not because I’m ‘sensitive’ or ‘a snowflake’, but because they provide a valuable lesson in power.Read More

RGA UK and ground-breaking children’s authors urge libraries to help combat dwarfism stereotypes

School and public libraries can help combat prejudice by promoting positive portrayals of people with dwarfism, according to the new ‘Spread The Word’ campaign launched today by leading dwarfism charity, RGA UK.

The charity – which campaigns to ensure people with dwarfism have the same opportunities as everyone else – has teamed up with two ground-breaking authors to encourage school and public libraries to stock children’s books showing dwarfism in a positive and realistic light.

Supporters are encouraged to contact their public or school library to request they stock ‘Strong and Mighty Max’ by Kristina Gray and ‘We Are Giants’ by Amber Lee Dodd, as well as ‘I can’t not never be very tall’ by Susan Hatton.

Template emails and letters to send to libraries – as well as Tweets, and Facebook posts – are available from the RGA UK website. Click here.

The aim of ‘Spread The Word’ is to promote more positive and accurate depictions of people with dwarfism who are otherwise often widely mischaracterised as people from fairy tales, myths, and fantasy stories.

RGA UK believes such misrepresentations can perpetuate stereotypes, prejudice, and misconceptions among children at a young age.

Books such as these help to introduce children to dwarfism, disability, and difference in a positive and realistic light.

Both authors have some availability to visit libraries and schools and talk to children about their books.

Chair of RGA UK, Gillian Martin, said: “There is an urgent need to address depictions of dwarfism, in our media and popular culture, which too often misrepresent members of our community as people out of myths, fairy tales, and fantasy novels.

“Introducing children to dwarfism and disability – of all sorts – at a young age helps them to become familiar with and accommodate difference and diversity, which we believe should be celebrated and embraced.

“These authors have done wonders to help us achieve this and we are very proud to support their books, which should be in every library across the country.”

Commenting on the campaign, Kristina said: “I am thrilled to be part of the RGA’s campaign to combat negative stereotypes of people with dwarfism. Educating young minds with positive role models is the key to empowering the next generation to value each other’s differences as something to be celebrated and respected.

“For a child who is born with a rare condition there is no greater feeling than picking up a story book and finding out that the main character is just like you.”

Amber Lee Dodd said: “Children’s fiction can often be a powerful medium for positive social change, which is why I’m very honoured that ‘We are Giants’ has been picked by RGA to promote positive representations of dwarfism – especially as ‘We are Giants’ is about never needing to be anything other than who you are.”

‘Strong and Mighty Max’ is aimed at Early Years and Key Stage 1. Max, born with Achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism), explains that Achondroplasia is a ‘big word’ and not a special ‘superpower’; it simply means his bones grow differently. It is a wonderfully illustrated story encouraging discussion about how everyone is born different.

‘We Are Giants’, for readers aged 9+, is written from the view of a young girl who lives with her sister and her mum who has dwarfism. Her deceased father also had dwarfism. When her mum gave birth to two average-sized daughters, people were sceptical about whether she could take care of them. It has been endorsed by best-selling author, Jacqueline Wilson, and reviewed by The Guardian.

It was also nominated for a number of national awards including the 2017 Branford Boase award for most promising children’s debut novel and Longlisted for the 2017 Waterstones’ children’s fiction award.

Template emails, Tweets, and Facebook posts are available from the RGA UK website. Click here.

To find your local library visit https://www.gov.uk/local-library-services or http://www.findmylibrary.co.uk/.

Are there other books that you think positively portrays people with dwarfism? Why not add these to your list and let Team RGA know via office@restrictedgrowth.co.uk.

ENDS

Notes

RGA UK is in no way commercially connected to the authors nor does the charity benefit financially from sales of these books.

We are Giants / Amber Lee DODD / Quercus Children’s Books / ISBN 9781784294212

Strong and Mighty Max / Kristina GRAY / Matador /ISBN 978178589046

I can’t not never be very tall / Susan HATTON / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform / ISBN 13: 9781499717747

Leave.EU ‘Turf out the dwarf’ campaign ‘disablist’ and ‘disgraceful’, says RGA UK

A leading charity for people with dwarfism has slammed a Leave.EU social media campaign – which showed a photo-shopped image of the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow MP, as a dwarf about to be thrown by a group of men, with the banner and hashtag ‘Turf Out the Dwarf’ – as ‘disgraceful’ and ‘disablist’.

The image and slogan were tweeted by @Leave.EU, supposedly in response to Mr Bercow’s recent comments about US President Donald Trump speaking in Parliament.

A RGA UK spokesman said: “Whatever your politics, we hope most people would agree that using the term ‘dwarf’ as a slur and celebrating – as this picture does – acts of physical violence against people with dwarfism is disgraceful and disablist.

“This isn’t about ‘political correctness’; it’s about dwarfism still being an acceptable target for prejudice and abuse.

“It’s a sad reminder that we still have far to go, as a society.”

At the time of writing, the Tweet can still be seen on the @Leave.EU twitter feed.

Some sad news

Dear friends, members, and supporters,

It is with a heavy heart that we have to tell you one of our well-known and much-loved members, Keith Hopkins, has sadly passed on.

Keith was an integral part of our community and our charity, for which he generously volunteered – often running our annual raffle – for many years. He was a kind and gentle character, genuine and welcoming.

We have now had confirmation about Keith’s funeral, which will take place on February 24th 2017.

If you knew Keith well and you would like to attend, please contact Adelina at RGA UK for further details (office@restrictedgrowth.co.uk).

If you would like to, it was Keith’s family’s kind suggestion that friends and family donate to the RGA – instead of providing flowers.

His family have arranged for the funeral directors to handle donations, through Graham Sullivan Funeral Directors, Ty-Hedd Funeral Home, Myndd Garnllwyd Road, Morriston, Swansea, SA6 7QG.

RGA UK was close to Keith’s heart, as he was to ours. We will all miss him.

Please pass this information on to anyone you think would like to know.

We are sorry to have to share such sad news.

The team at RGA UK.