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Deaf writer, Rebecca Atkinson, creates new series called Mixmups which focuses on disabled lead characters.

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Disability advocate and deaf writer, Rebecca Atkinson, has created a brand-new pre-school children’s series called Mixmups, which focuses on disabled lead characters. This premiered on Channel 5’s Milkshake just last week! Mixmups” was co-written by Debbie Macdonald, who has a son with Down syndrome.

The animated series is targeted at 3 to 5-year-old children, and the characters include a deaf and partially blind character, Atkinson, as well as a wheelchair user and a guide dog.

The series comprises various playing styles, including children’s love of “mixing” things together and exploring and discovering, which aims to encourage imagination, growth, and independent thinking.

Deaf writer, Rebecca Atkinson, is also the founder of the viral #ToyLikeMe campaign, where she has been working since 2015 to improve disability representation for kids. She noticed the lack of toys available for kids with disabilities, and together Atkinson and other parents in the U.K. petitioned toy companies to make toys with disabilities. And as a result of her efforts, some manufacturers, like Makies, Playmobil and Lottie dolls, successfully debuted disabled toys.

Check out this article written by Atkinson about the series featured in the Guardian.

Atkinson used the different styles in which children play to inspire each character; neat and tidy Pockets, creative and inventive Giggle, plus boisterous and physical Spin. Along with their assistance pets, Roller Guinea and Yapette the guide dog, who all live in a wheelchair-accessible Helter-Skelter house in Mixington Valley. Through their young, imaginative minds, the characters embrace a variety of ways to play, entertain each other, and embark upon day-to-day problem-solving challenges.

Atkinson tells us she began talking to wheelchair-using children, and they stated that they wanted to see characters walking short distances and transferring to the sofa. She says the children “wanted to show that a wheelchair is a tool of enablement not confinement, and that the ability to walk is not binary”. That’s why the team gave the series a magical aspect, where the world changed for the characters, cupboards magically came down to the right height for the children when they needed to reach for something, and everything else transformed within reach.

Atkinson goes on to say: “The children wanted to see characters with imperfect bodies, so the puppet designers gave the character of Giggle some curvature of the spine. Her gait and range of movements is based on the physical parameters of just one child model, because every wheelchair-user is different.”

Rebecca Atkinson said: “In Mixmups I wanted to create a universally appealing show which would burst from screens like a seaside candy store of creativity, bright, tangible, sweet and funny, capturing the magic of play and the ability of pre-schoolers to disappear into their own imaginations, but with unprecedented attention to the lived experience of disabled children and families.[…] I hope it will also become the first mainstream pre-school toy/tv/book brand to playfully and creatively represent and celebrate millions of disabled children and families worldwide who have waited the planet’s whole lifetime to reach this stage of cultural inclusion.”

A total of 52 episodes of Mixmups, each 10 minutes long, will be made available. Enjoy 1 episode every Saturday and Sunday from 4th November at 8.15am on Channel 5’s Milkshake! Also streaming on My5.

Louise Bucknole, General Manager, Kids and Family, U.K. & Ireland, Paramount said:

“We are so proud to have commissioned the wonderful Mixmups for Milkshake!. It’s a beautiful animation packed full of imagination and, what’s more, it’s a show accessible to every child. It’s been an incredible journey working alongside Rebecca and the team to bring this series to life and we’re so excited to introduce it to our Milkshake! audience.”

Directed by Andy Burns, written by Debbie MacDonald and Rebecca Atkinson, and produced by Chris Bowden, & consultation from Karen Newell (play and educational expert).

Mixmups was developed and produced with support from the UK Government funded Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), which is managed by the BFI and in collaboration with Raydar Media.

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