Everyday Heroes

Grandfather With Skin Condition Crochets Dolls to Help Kids Who Look Like Him

His goal? Take an often-stigmatized skin condition and make it feel more normal for children who have it.

At 38 years old, Joao Stanganelli Jr. developed Vitiligo, a skin condition that causes patches of skin to lose pigmentation. It's pretty rare (fewer than 1% of people have it), so while the condition doesn't affect life span or keep people from living active lives, it often comes with a social stigmas.

Joao Stanganelli Jr. | Courtesy of Instagram

Lately, Vitiligo is becoming more normalized thanks to celebrities and influencers who have the condition, like super-model Winnie Harlow.

Winnie Harlow | Courtesy of Instagram

Still, most people with the condition are self-conscious. Now 64 and a grandpa, Mr. Stanganelli, who is from Brazil, is using his talents to make children with the condition feel represented by crocheting dolls with Vitiligo patches.

"I'm very grateful to bring some encouragement, representativeness, self-esteem, self-love and resilience to those with Vitiligo," Stanganelli told Sparkt.

After needing to take a step back from work because of a health issue, Stanganelli began to crochet with his wife. He soon mastered the basics and wanted to make a special gift for his granddaughter - a doll with Vitiligo patches, so she'd never forget him. He says that his granddaughter was overwhelmed with the gift, and he decided to share a photo to his social media.

The idea took off from there, and requests for Stanganelli to make custom "Vitilindas" began pouring in. Since then he's hand-made roughly 200 dolls. "The basic Vitilinda dolls take around one and a half days," Mr. Stanganelli told Sparkt in Portuguese. And you can tell he loves the work by the big smile on his face.

You can purchase a custom doll by reaching out directly to Mr. Stanganelli through his Instagram account here .

Do you or someone you have Vitiligo, or have an idea about how to increase representation? Start a conversation below!

To learn more about Vitiligo, explore https://vitiligosupport.org/ .

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