Kanani Akina // (c) 2010 American Girl
For the first time, the American Girl line of dolls, books and accessories has created a doll from Hawaii as its Girl of the Year. Called Kanani Akina, the new 18-inch doll, books and accessories debuted on Jan. 1, 2011.
Kanani Akina's story, as told in two American Girl books, embodies many of Kauai's unique qualities that the company hopes will resonate with legions of young fans nationwide. Kanani is multi-ethnic, lives happily amidst a close-knit community of family and friends, celebrates Hawaii's cultural traditions, cares about the environment and shares the warmth of her aloha spirit with newcomers.
"We are pleased and proud to have our 2011 Girl of the Year hail from the tropical paradise of Kauai," said Ellen Brothers, president of American Girl. "We know girls will love learning about this beautiful location and Hawaii's unique culture - especially sharing the aloha spirit of helping others. Through Kanani, girls will discover that everyone has something to share that can make life better for someone else."
Sue Kanoho, executive director for the Kauai Visitors Bureau, said she was thrilled about the attention that American Girl and the Kanani doll will bring to Kauai.
"We're honored that American Girl selected Kauai as the backdrop for its heartwarming story of sharing aloha through Kanani, and that it is highlighting the timeless attributes that make our island, Hawaii's culture and our way of life so uniquely special and inviting," said Kanoho.
Kanoho added that Kauai is ideal for families who enjoy experiencing the outdoors and creating lasting memories together.
Central to Kanani's story is her helping with the rescue of a Hawaiian monk seal on a Kauai beach. Hawaiian monk seals are the most endangered U.S. marine mammal with an estimated population of 1,200. About 10 percent of them live in the main Hawaiian islands, with the remainder living in the more remote Northwestern Hawaiian islands.
For every Kanani plush monk seal sold in 2011, American Girl is donating $1 to the National Wildlife Federation (up to $100,000).