Robbinsdale Schools Adds Dolls with Hijabs to Classrooms
When a young student in Robbinsdale’s Early Childhood Program saw one of their dolls outfitted in a new hijab, she exclaimed that it was just like her.
Those words were music to the ears of teachers at the New Hope Learning Center. Teachers Debbie Irrgang and Gerri Fisher wanted the dolls in the classrooms to better reflect the diversity of their students.
“For us to have students that wear hijabs that can also play with dolls that have hijabs really adds to that feeling of kids feeling respected, and seen and welcomed in our classrooms,” said Fisher.
But there was a problem. Doll hijabs are not a common accessory, and the teachers couldn’t find them to purchase.
So, they enlisted the help of volunteer coordinator Jill Kaufman to try to find a volunteer who might sew doll hijabs. Kaufman found a volunteer named Alyce Estrem, who lives in Plymouth, and she agreed to sew the doll hijabs. She used child-sized hijabs for reference.
“I lived abroad in 2005-2007 and can relate to the feeling of cultural identity,” said Estrem in a press release. “I hope this sewing project will help some children feel more comfortable.”
Estrem sewed 29 hijabs, one for a doll in each of the classrooms at the New Hope Learning Center. Teachers delivered the hijabs in February.
Teachers couldn’t be happier with the kids’ reaction.
“When you see a student’s face light up, seeing a toy or book which includes a character that looks like them or represents their experience, you realize how much these things add to a child feeling included,” said Fisher, one of the instructors. “As teachers, we need to continue to remind ourselves that the success of our students is largely impacted by how respected and welcome they feel.”
For more information on the early childhood programs offered through Robbinsdale schools, click here.