American Girl started the new year by unveiling its 2020 Girl of the Year™, Joss Kendrick- a fierce athlete born with hearing loss and a passion for surfing and competitive cheer. Joss joins American Girl’s lineup of inspirational characters who help girls learn and grow with confidence. Whether she’s on her surfboard or in the gym, Joss shows girls the importance of trying new things, pushing past stereotypes and being a good team player.
“American Girl has a rich legacy of creating timeless characters who encourage girls to reach for new heights and discover who they’re meant to be,” said Jamie Cygielman, General Manager of American Girl. “We’re proud to welcome Joss Kendrick, whose stories are sure to instill confidence and character in girls who are learning to think about the possibilities in their own lives. Working with Olympic hopeful surfer Caroline Marks adds real-world inspiration about what can happen when you go ‘all in’ on your dreams.”To celebrate the new Girl of the Year, American Girl is teaming up with 17-year-old surfing prodigy Caroline Marks, as she prepares to make history next summer as a member of the first-ever U.S. Women’s Olympic surfing team. “I’m so excited to be a part of the Joss launch and share her message that passion and hard work can really take a girl places—even to the Olympics,” said Marks.
To create Joss, American Girl worked closely with a team of experts specializing in surfing, competitive cheerleading, and hearing loss, including:
- Crystal DaSilva—Women’s Deaf Shortboard champion and winner of national and world titles
- Sara Jo Moen & Julie Peterson—Owners of Fury Athletics in Madison, WI, a training gym for competitive cheer teams
- Dr. Sharon Pajka, Ph.D.—Professor of English at Gallaudet University and a specialist in portrayals of deaf characters in adolescent literature
- Jennifer Richardson, Au.D.—Educational audiologist and founder of Hearing Milestones Foundation
- Bianca Valenti—Professional big wave surfer and co-founder of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing
Joss is designed as a beautiful 18-inch doll with long brown hair and brown eyes. She comes wearing a swimsuit, hoodie, and shorts, plus a removable hearing aid in her right ear.
To give her story more life kids can add a surfboard and swim gear, cheer outfits and equipment—including a cheer backpack, slides, and competition shoes in partnership with Nfinity®—and her talented English bulldog, Murph the Surf Dog.
This spring, American Girl, in partnership with Volkswagen Accessories, will debut Joss’s Volkswagen Surf Bus, which comes fully stocked with more than 50 items, including a storage bench that folds into a bed, a pop-up stove, and a fold-out table. The surf bus also features working headlights, turn signals, windshield wipers, and radio, plus sounds for the horn and ignition.
In honor of Joss, American Girl is proud to partner with Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the nation’s leading nonprofit representing people with hearing loss, with a $25,000 donation to support the organization’s education and awareness programs. American Girl is also supporting HLAA’s 2020 Walk4Hearing. Celebrating its 15th year, the Walk4Hearing brings families together across the US to encourage hearing health and living well with hearing loss.