Sunday 15 September 2019

Wheel style: Sisters create wheelchair covers for anniversary Barbie

Creative: Izzy (left) and Ailbhe Keane
Creative: Izzy (left) and Ailbhe Keane
Barbie inspired wheelchair design by Izzy and Ailbhe Keane
Barbie inspired wheelchair design by Izzy and Ailbhe Keane
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Two Irish sisters have teamed up with Barbie to create a capsule collection of wheelchair covers.

Sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane of company Izzy Wheels are collaborating with Barbie to create four limited-edition designs, inspired by 60 years of Barbie.

The wheel covers are available in sizing for any manual wheelchair, and in a special Barbie-scale edition for the Barbie with Wheelchair doll.

This year, Barbie expanded its line to include dolls with physical disabilities, including a doll with a wheelchair and a doll with a prosthetic limb.

Barbie's manufacturer Mattel commented that a wheelchair has been among the most frequently requested accessories for the doll.

Izzy Wheels started as a college project in 2015.

Ailbhe wanted to help her sister Izzy - who was born with spina​ ​bifida​ ​and​ ​is​ ​paralysed​ ​from​ ​her​ ​waist​ ​down - to be able to express her individuality via her chair.

The aim was to transform a medical device into a piece of fashion and self-expression.

"Izzy Wheels empower wheelchair users to make a statement about themselves," Izzy said.

"It makes a person's wheelchair into a friendly object rather than something purely functional.

"Having stylish wheels on your chair that match your outfit or show off your interests immediately addresses the chair and opens conversation.

"Having a Barbie in a wheelchair meant so much to me as a little girl, and I love that a whole new generation of kids with disabilities can play with a Barbie that represents them."

Ailbhe added that Izzy Wheels wanted to "challenge negative associations with wheelchairs and let users celebrate their individuality by personalising their source of independence".

Wheel covers will be available from August 28 on IzzyWheels.com whilst the Barbie with Wheelchair dolls are available now from UK toy stores, including Smyths.

Irish Independent

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