Happy Birthday Sesame Street
07 Mar 2006
The children’s show Sesame Street is celebrating its 35th Anniversary. Run by the not-for-profit organisation, Sesame Workshop, it has maintained its excellence in educational media since the 60s.
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This year, the children’s television show, Sesame Street, is celebrating its 35th Anniversary. Run by the not-for-profit organisation, Sesame Workshop, it has maintained its gold standard’ for excellence in educational media since the 60s, broadcasting its culturally adapted shows across 120 countries. Honoured with more Emmy Awards than any other programme in television history, Sesame Street has been at the heart of three generations of children.
Using a diverse cast of Muppets’, the show teaches its audience critical early education skills while also pro-moting healthy, emotional and physical social development. It adapts all its characters sensitively, to fit with the religious and cultural expectations of each country. In Takalani Sesame, the South African adaption, a young and vibrant, HIV-Positive Muppet, conveys messages designed to reduce the fear and stigma of the condition, and in the Arabic-Hebrew production, Israeli and Palestinian children can learn about cross cultural respect and religious co-existence. ‘In our country, which has been torn by violence, Sesame Street could possibly be the last one of its kind to portray people as human beings,’ says an Israeli father.
The non-profit Sesame Workshop relies on income from the sale of its Sesame products as well as public and private funding partnerships to finance its projects. In response to alarming trends in childhood obesity, it has recently launched an initiative to help preschoolers develop more Healthy Habits for Life’. This includes public information announcements, books, magazines, educational outreach kits, interactive museum exhibits, videos, DVDs and a new section on the Sesame website.
For many children, media’ is the window through which they can view the world; it not only reflects the norm but also defines and shapes it. Sesame Street strives to help every child, what ever their race, faith, gender or size, reach their highest potential. It does this by defying stereotypes, focussing on what is possible’, encouraging all children to learn, think independently, encourage change and reach out for a better world.
‘Through education we can make measurable differences … now and for generations to come,’ says Gary Knell, Sesame’s President. ‘And despite all the changes over the last four decades, our vision, values and focus on helping children learn have remained constant. One child at a time, millions of children the world over.’
Photo: Kolkar, a Sesame Street resident
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