ginny blog -empathy, diversity, disability

wwi with with “, of cours” Blog post by: Dr. Shweta Verma*

What kind of a world do you want to be a part of?

“I have rights, respect, and choices. I belong here. I am okay. Being different is okay!”

This is the kind of world that Ginny’s Planet aims to build.

Why build a better world for all? 

We are born in a world created by others. However, as we grow and get the power to make choices that impact this world through our everyday actions. Then, the world that we live in becomes the kind of world that we create.

There are, of course, many decisions that don’t lie with us. People and systems that may be more powerful than each of us- also have a lot of reponsility. However, with things that we say and do, and things that we do not do- each action of ours starts a chain of reaction, a ripple, that can spread the impact of everything we do.

For example, whether it is about how you dispose of waste, or what you say to a child who asks about diversity – your response and actions have far-reaching impact on the planet and its people. Therefore, let’s figure out ways in which each of us can contribute to building a better world.

Who is Ginny and why did she emerge?

Ginny in HT city

How many parents in India would buy their children a disabled doll?, ask C.K.Meena & V.R. Ferose in their latest book: The Invisible Majority, India’s Abled Disabled . Calling Ginny “a radical idea that perhaps ahead of its time in our disabled-unfriendly country”, Meena & Ferose (2021, p. 291) write about Ginny and her planet, where nobody is the odd one out and where diversity is the norm. A better world. Have you met Ginny yet? or visited her planet?

Ginny, is now 8. We introduced her as a 4 year old girl in 2019. She is a girl who loves football and rain! Ginny was born with a condition- radial club hand. Her right arm is shorter than her left arm. If you count her fingers on both hands, you will know that they are a total of 9. Wearing her spectacles to see the world better. Ginny doll is one of the easiest and quickest ways to trigger conversations on diversity, disability and empathy.

How did the idea of creating a social enterprise- Ginny’s Planet emerge? The co-founders’ personal mission and experiences led to Ginny’s Planet. Watch this video to know this.

We wanted to create a diversity-respecting world. Ginny as a doll and character emerged when I interviewed children and parents. Through the insights that I gained, it was clear that we needed more than one strategy to build a better world. A world that belongs to everyone!

Somak Ghoshal ( 27 June 2020) aptly wrote in his article about our strategy just when Ginny’s Planet was turning 1 year old: 

“To achieve this effectively, they needed a tool, one that would, through nuanced messaging, make children understand the reality of living with differences and disability. They found their answer in a doll they named Ginny—a little girl made of cloth, with two plaits, thick glasses, and a radial club hand..”

Ginny is not meant to be inspiring. Instead, she is meant to be an ordinary child having fun, making mistakes, learning with diverse experiences, and bonding with friends who are a bit like and a bit unlike her. 

Who is Ginny? and why she is important to learn empathy, diversity and disability

Why should you bring Ginny- a doll with a disability home?

Many people think that talk about disability is a serious and tragic topic- better left out of conversations with young ones who may not have been born with a disability. But what if children have questions about disability and diversity? What if the child is later found to have conditions that make them wonder if they are odd-ones-out?

Therefore, Ginny Doll and workshops on empathy, diversity, and disability bring in nuanced understanding and acceptance of differences. When you bring Ginny home, you show your belief that it is okay to be different and that there are no perfections that each has to aspire for.

When you choose the Ginny doll, you challenge the taboo and discomfort around the term ‘disability’ itself. You show that it is okay to talk about people, disability, and several other aspects with each other.

The Ginny doll, for many, becomes the beginning of a conversation about disability and diversity. Thinking about disability is not purely about ‘helping’ and providing ‘services’. Anyone, including a person with a disability, has several identities, aspects of life, aspirations, and relationships. Everyone has the right to access opportunities, forge paths, and to be seen along with but also beyond the aspect of impairment/disability.

Hence, we all have to move beyond our assumptions and stereotypes if we have to build empathic connections and relationships.

Describing our approach, Tenzin Norzom (2021) quotes Ginny’s Planet in her article, “It is important to get to the mode of understanding people before you start saying things, offering help, or just assuming. That is the core of empathy we come up with in every workshop and conversation.”

It's okay to be different

Ginny’s Better World

This world is a place where Ginny lives with her friends and is open to everyone -children and grownups. You can find very interesting coloring and story books for kids. The product Ginny doll help you start a conversation with children about empathy, diversity, and disability.

We conduct various workshops for kids, teachers, and parents. And also we conduct internship programs for students and moms. 

In 2019 when we started with Ginny doll and her stories, we realized the need to help others experience Ginny’s inclusive world. In 2020, with the lockdown and COVID, this idea could be executed only in the online mode. Hence, remaining true to the essence of Ginny’s Planet, we celebrate A Day on Ginny’s Planet! Soon Ginny’s Planet is coming up with the 6th Edition of A Day on Ginny’s Planet. So if you want to be a part then explore at the links below. 

Ginny’s World

A Day on Ginny’s Planet

Ginny’s Planet was born out of the co-founders’ personal mission to create an empathic, inclusive, and diversity-respecting world.

About Ginny’s Planet:

Ginny’s Planet is a social enterprise Co-founded by Dr. Shweta Verma in 2019. The brand runs on the core value of helping our teachers and parents to teach their children to become independent, smart and better leaders by equipping them with a deep understanding of empathy, diversity, disability and inclusion. Dr. Shweta and the team design events, workshops and products to help guardians & schools to develop kids’ mindset and evolve as adaptive and flexible human beings. They work with schools to organise workshops for children and teachers.

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*Dr. Shweta Verma: CEO of Ginny’s Planet. She is a social work professional with experience in the disability rights & mental health field. She conceptualized Ginny and is part of the team that evolves Ginny as a character. She has led several workshops with children and NGO workers on empathy.