Most have come to accept that, when people want to have their voice heard, they typically take to the Internet to share their plea or opinion. Yet, while Facebook and Twitter have become the most common places to air one's frustrations, one young girl created a Change.org petition to shine light on her cause.Along with the help of her sister, 10-year-old Melissa Shang has started a campaign to encourage American Girl to create a disabled "Girl of the Year" doll. Each year, the popular toy company offers one doll that captures to spirit of young girls everywhere. However, as Shang notes, the disabled are often invisible or side characters that the main character must help. Shang, who was born with a type of Muscular Dystrophy, wishes to see herself--her struggles, her successes, her happiness--reflected in one such character, for only the brand's wheelchair accessory comes close to bringing Shang's dream to life.
As Shang underscores, there are many American girls just like her. While she enjoys learning about girls of all backgrounds and interests, she wants others to learn what it's like to need a wheelchair every day. She cannot ride horses or dance ballet like many of the other characters, and with the help of news outlets and social media, her petition has become the viral voice of an underrepresented youth. She highlights an opportunity for the American Girl company, a brand that prides itself on empowering young girls, to cater to an untapped demographic while educating thousands of other developing minds in the process.
Will American Girl listen to Shang and take her suggestion to heart? Only time will tell. But we can all be sure that, regardless of age, the Internet, digital media, and social networks have truly become the activist's new (and powerful) vehicle for change. To learn more about Shang's petition, watch her explanatory video below: