How schools and online businesses are promoting diversity for the younger generation

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 5:08 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2023 at 6:29 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - An online children’s brand based in Vermont is on a mission to promote representation in the Green Mountain State and educate children about diversity.

“Diversity is about representation but it is also understanding the nuances of everybody’s personalities,” said Akshata Nayak, the founder of Little Patakha.

Little Patakha started in 2020 when a mother was trying to teach her daughter about her culture, but the idea quickly changed to something even bigger.

“One of the things that inspired me to pivot the idea of the brand was just the racial justice movement,” Nayak said.

The online children’s brand promotes now diversity through jigsaw puzzles and coloring books. The goal is to help young children understand diverse ideas, people and sounds.

Some of her products are being also being used in school classrooms all over Vermont.

“Teachers love the products that we created mostly because it encourages conversation,” Nayak said.

The Next Generation school in South Burlington promotes diversity through its books. I spoke with the director who says it’s a safe learning environment.

“The kids are learning about how family structures are and how family structures may be different,” said Taylor Cole, the Next Generation school director.

Cole says she works hard to make sure kids understand diversity. She says she doesn’t use any of Nayak’s products but shares her vision.

“We’re building that foundational step in early ed, especially,” Cole said. “We’re actually in our current me, myself and my world unit. So it works out perfectly.”

Nayak says it is important to start educating children at a young age about inclusiveness.

“So these kids are very open-minded, so they’re accepting of everything basically and so it’s very exciting for teachers to use these products and start their conversations with them,” Nayak said.

She says research shows inclusive messaging can change attitudes in just a few weeks.