Grandpa crochets inclusive dolls with vitiligo to make kids feel special

Vitiligo is a condition where white patches develop on the skin. Because it usually develops early in life, children are susceptible to this skin condition. Vitiligo is physically harmless but it has a psychological impact on the affected person, especially on children.

Joao Stanganelli crocheting dolls with patches
João Stanganelli

To make children with vitiligo feel better, a 64-year-old grandpa from Brazil crochets dolls with patches. Being a vitiligo sufferer himself,  João Stanganelli Junior knows how this skin condition can affect someone’s self –confidence. He is most concerned about young vitiligo patients who think something is wrong with them because they look different.

Because Stanganelli is now semi-retired, he has more time to do crochet dolls to make kids feel better about their appearance. In their free time, he and his wife would sit together to crochet lovely dolls with patches.

People with vitiligo are beautiful
João Stanganelli

“At first, my fingers and back hurt a lot, today no more,” said Stanganelli. “I’m not yet retired, I still keep up my old work with food, but much less intensely. At the moment, I spend 90% of my time with the dolls. I have many orders.”

Stanganelli said that crocheting can be addictive as it is very relaxing and fulfilling, especially if you’re doing it for a good cause.

Grandpa with vitiligo and his dolls
João Stanganelli

The first doll he made was for her granddaughter, something that will always remind her of him. This is why he made a doll with vitiligo patches. This was when the idea of crocheting dolls with patches sparked.

Thrilled and inspired, Stanganelli started making more of these distinctive dolls. He also made a doll in a wheelchair to help children feel better and more valued despite their health condition.

As expected, his dolls have brought a lot of joy and self-esteem in many children with vitiligo. He showcased his latest works on Facebook and Instagram where her dolls became really popular.

Dolls with vitiligo patches
João Stanganelli

“My view of vitiligo seems to me to be very different from the general, I think it is necessary first that you have vitiligo, after this acceptance, you choose what you want to do,” Stanganelli said. “I still quote Benjamin Disraeli: ‘Life is too short to be small.”

Among the children whose life was touched with Stanganelli’s doll was Maria Luiza, the daughter of author Tati Santis de Oliveira. She was diagnosed with vitiligo so her mother looked for all available information about the skin condition. That’s when she came across Stanganelli’s dolls which also inspired her to write a book about her daughter’s vitiligo. The book is called “A Menina Feita de Nuyens” or “The Girl Made of Clouds.”

Joao and Maria Luiza
João Stanganelli

Stanganelli loved the book and said it has a lot of useful information for parents with children suffering from vitiligo. The book also aims to increase people’s awareness of vitiligo and promote social acceptance.

Stanganelli often talks about this book with his clients to help them cope with their children’s situation better. “Let’s hope we see an English translation one day soon!” he said.

In the end, Stanganelli didn’t just develop a fun and rewarding hobby but he also put smiles on children’s faces and made a difference in their lives. Kudos to this loving and creative grandpa!