The toy is the brainchild of Pittsburgh mom Connie Feda, whose 13-year-old daughter, Hannah, has Down syndrome. Connie wanted to create a doll that looked more like her daughter and captured the “beauty, vivaciousness and spunk of kids,” according to her website, Dolls for Downs. So she set to task making Ellie, an 18-inch doll that has almond-shaped eyes and flatter ski-jump nose—just like Hannah.
Designed for kids with Down syndrome, the doll features clothes that are easier to put on and take off, making for a less frustrating play experience. Ellie also has zippers, Velcro, buttons, and other items to help kids develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Some even have scars on their chests, reflective of a common heart-repair surgery many Downs kids have to have.
Several other dolls have been added to the line, making for five girls and five boys in all with different hair and eye color combos. The dolls are set for release on May 1st, but they can be pre-ordered here. You can also donate a doll to a child in need.