The idea for Hals Pals dolls started in September of 1983. A lady named Susan Anderson was chatting with a neighbor during“Handicapped Awareness Day” at a Fraser, Colorado elementary school when her friend Audrey Boxwell asked: “What do you think about handicapped dolls?” They were manufactured by Mattel after ski instructor Hal O’Leary, who has coached Ted Kennedy Jr. and blind actor Tom Sullivan—the 19-inch, soft-sculpture dolls are clearly disabled but as cute and cuddly as a Cabbage Patch Kid. The five Pals include a one-legged skier, a ballerina wearing hearing aids, a doll in a wheelchair, one with crutches and leg braces, and one with dark glasses, white cane and seeing-eye dog.”
Even Hal O” Leary said: “When you see a one-legged skier whipping past you on the slopes, you suddenly grasp that person’s capabilities in a very real way. “When I saw the dolls, I thought, ‘These do the same things for kids.’ ”
The dolls are designed to give kids with disabilities positive images of themselves and help those who don’t have disabilities to accept and become comfortable around someone with a disability. I’ve seen it work. When my niece and nephew come to my house they love to play with it. My nephew loves to push the wheelchair and says, “I’m going to take her for a walk.” He pushes her over to the bookcase and says, “Is that nice?” He sounds so cute! When they came to the house last weekend, he and his sister started pushing me in my manual wheelchair down the hallway and spinning me in circles. As for my niece forget the doll, she wants to ride in the little wheelchair!
Dolls like this are a great idea. I’m glad to see that more companies are coming out with dolls like this. I wish stories would sell them so more kids could see them and play with them. When it comes to getting society comfortable with people with disabilities, we need all the help we can get. I love this doll! Thank you, Mattel!