In a new and creative move to help some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees – children – Sesame Street is teaming up with an international aid organisation to educate and entertain displaced young people around the world.
According to statistics from the UN Refugee Agency, more than half of the world’s forcibly displaced people are children. Made to flee brutal wars or persecution, millions of them will end up spending their entire childhoods away from home, sometimes separated from their families. Many will experience trauma after witnessing scenes of violence, and away from home, they are often at increased risk of abuse, neglect, trafficking and exploitation. And it goes without saying, of course, that the majority have to leave school.
During the world’s first ever World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul in May this year, Sesame Workshop (the nonprofit, educational organisation behind Sesame Street) and the International Rescue Committee announced that they will be working together to develop entertaining and educational content, featuring their beloved Muppets, that can reach displaced children – wherever they are living – via electronic devices such as mobile phones, TV and radio. The two organisations will be working together to develop and disseminate educational resources and programmes for young refugees, not only offering them an interactive learning experience, but also helping them cope with the trauma and loss they may have experienced.
Jeffrey D. Dunn, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop had the following to say:
“We know that children who experience trauma or extreme stress during their earliest years have increased likelihood of long-term deficits, and may suffer tremendously in their overall brain and cognitive development. This is an immense tragedy with profound consequences for the rest of humanity. At Sesame, we feel a special obligation to help these most vulnerable of the world’s children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder than their current circumstances will allow.”
And, what’s more, Sesame Workshop already has a lot of experience working in country-specific contexts outside the US. Just recently, for example, in the Afghanistan version of Sesame Street they introduced the show’s first ever female Afghan muppet, named Zari. In a country where many young children – especially girls – lack access to education, the choice of gender was deliberate. To take a look at the hijab-sporting Zari, check out the video below.