Hi, I’m Maria and I’d like to tell you about our mission to make the biggest rag doll EVER!
At RagHeroes we have set ourselves a MASSIVE challenge to build the world’s biggest rag doll with the help of children from around the North East. We really hope we can make it into The Guinness World Book of Records! We started this challenge in 2013 and hope to have it completed by Autumn 2016. So far, 640 North East children have taken part in this challenging yet exciting project
How will #projectragdoll work?
This doll will need to be huge! But at RagHeroes we only like to do things that have a big impact and we reckon we can pull it off
We are currently aiming for the doll to be just over 28ft high. As you can imagine it is going to take an awful lot of work to achieve this but we believe we can. It will be an amazing accomplishment for all involved, especially the children! We are very lucky to have a fabulous group of North East businesses and charities who have volunteered to work with us to build the doll, as well as support from members of the local community. Click here to see a list of the places from which the 640 children have taken part.
To build the doll we have been working with children from around the North East. 640 children took the time to make their contribution to the doll. The children were each given a piece of fabric onto which they either drew, sewn or painted their hopes and dreams for the future. The children expressed messages about who they love, what they want to be when they grow up, who their heroes are and many other positive messages they wanted to share. The artwork looks amazing and you can see more samples of the children’s work in the picture gallery here.
The symbol of the rag doll is very important to us. It represents the unity of children from around the North East, and big scale recognition of the importance of their dreams and hopes for themselves and the future of the area we live in. I have limited this project to the North East for several reasons. Aside from making it a lot easier for us to manage, it is where I am from, and I have received so much help and support over the years from so many fabulous local people that I would like to give something back. It is also one of the most deprived areas in the UK and is the area which is being hit hardest by government cuts. Due to this I want to focus my efforts in the North East, with an aim to try and counteract some of the bleakness and gloomy times that are ahead of us, or indeed for many, are already with us. I want to do this project and give children something positive they can look back on and smile and feel inspired by whilst living through what is essentially a difficult time for local families.
How can you get involved? There is still time!
If you would like your children to take part then all you need to do is to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will then contact you with all the necessary details on how you can be involved in this exciting project. We are encouraging anyone between the ages of 2 – 16 years to get involved, and we also welcome interest from nurseries, schools, youth projects and other organisations too. We can accept art work from children until the end of May 2016.
If you are good with a needle and thread and would like to actually help us to sew the doll together (adults only please), then we would more than welcome you… we’ll even make you a cuppa tea or pour you a glass of wine! Please email us for details at the email address above.
If you live in the North East and would be willing to help us spread the word either by letting individuals, youth projects, schools, children’s centres etc. know they can join in, or to spread awareness by using the hashtag #projectragdoll on social media, we would very much appreciate it.
What happens once the doll is built?
Once the doll is built, sometime during the school summer holidays (2016), we will be looking to find a suitable venue to display the doll and host a small ceremony that all the children/organisations will be invited to. At the ceremony each child will receive a certificate for taking part and a photo of themselves with the doll. We are then open to suggestions about where the doll may ‘live’ after this and welcome any enquiries from local venues that may like to give the doll a home!
We are very excited about this project and really believe it will be something children can look back on with pride and a sense of accomplishment.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions you would like to ask, putting ‘project rag doll’ in the subject bar.
Update: You can now watch the first part of the doll being made, which is the children completing their artwork in the video gallery here. The second video which will show the dolls body being made will be released very soon.
RagHeroes – Background Information
What is RagHeroes?
Founded in 2012, RagHeroes was originally a business started by a local Mam, Maria Albertsen (thats me!) that manufactured rag dolls for boys. However RagHeroes has since changed direction and is now a not for profit community blog, ran by parents for parents.
Why is RagHeroes no longer a business?
RagHeroes was founded on the belief that little boys should have access to dolls and play that encourages them to express their emotional side, but RagHeroes was always about so much more than just rag dolls! It is based on the principle that every child (boy or girl) should have access to play and support that will help them to grow and develop as individuals, both emotionally and intellectually, promoting positive relationships with the people around them. Taking the time to talk to and support parents and encouraging parents to support each other was always a huge part of this…..hence the natural transition to community blog. If you are interested you can read more about how Sir Richard Branson helped us to get started and the history of RagHeroes here.
However, what I found when growing this business is that I was missing my own little people. My own children were just 2 and 4 years old and I hated spending time away from them. I realised that whilst I could put my time and effort into making rag dolls for other children and growing a profitable business, what I was in fact doing was spending less and less time with my own children…..and that didn’t sit right with me!
In 2013 I was offered substantial investment to grow the business which I turned down. The investment meant that I could have built a big business and potentially made a lot of money BUT if I am 100% honest it wasn’t what my heart wanted to do. If I had accepted the investment it would have meant that I would be working even longer hours, up to 50 plus hours per week and the dolls would have been manufactured in China (mass made) which I didn’t like the idea of either. After much thought I decided that RagHeroes would no longer operate as a business but would be an online space where parents could tell their stories and support each other.
And that’s where we are at today. The blog is still being developed and I am excited to see how this space grows over the coming months and years.
On the passing of my local heroine Denise Robertson it feels right for me to acknowledge her life here on this site, and this is why I am doing so:
Denise has always been an influential part of my life. Her presence both on TV and meeting her at local functions always left me changed in some way. By the time I was in my early 20’s she was easily my local heroine and a woman who I looked up to and really admired. She was one of the people who inspired me to train to be a counsellor/psychotherapist and to help others.
Denise was extremely proud of where she came from and always supportive of her beloved Sunderland and the wider North East. Denise was more than happy to support me when I asked her be a part of my presentation at a local event for North East business women. It was here that I presented her with her own RagHero which she loved.
She left me with some words which I will treasure forever when she emailed me after the event to tell me, “Maria….You have turned into a remarkable young woman so if I played any part in that I’m very proud.”
Here you can watch a clip of the Inspirational Talk she gave at the event, I’m sure you can hear her passion for the North East shining though.
RIP Denise, you will be loved and missed always x
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