Sesame Street launches muppet show especially for Syrian children
The new show of the beloved children's program will address their needs
The creators of beloved children’s program Sesame Street have collaborated with the International Rescue Committee for a new show geared towards Syrian refugee children.
meaning ‘Welcome Sesame’ won’t focus on teaching numbers and letters like the U.S. based original but will place emphasis on emotions like fear, anger, loneliness, and caring.
Worldwide, more than half of all refugees are children. And as intractable conflicts drag on for years and years, being a refugee today often means not going home for decades. “We know now that the average length of displacement for a refugee is close to 20 years,” says David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
“And that’s why it’s a total tragedy that less than 2% of all humanitarian aid funding goes on education, even though half of the world’s refugees are kids.” Only a tiny sliver of that 2% goes to pre-school aged children, who are among the most vulnerable of all.
In 2016, the MacArthur Foundation offered a $100 million grant to any organization that could “solve a big global problem.” The IRC and Sesame Workshop had already begun collaborating on ways to help the youngest refugees, and they saw an opportunity.
“We defined the global problem we wanted to tackle was trauma, toxic stress among refugee children in the Middle East,” said Miliband.
Their joint effort won the grant. Sesame would create a new show; the IRC would drastically ramp up in-person services to refugee kids, including in their makeshift homes.
CBS News reports that in a featured episode, one of the show’s main characters, a girl Muppet named Basma, decides to make a toy drum to replace the one her best friend Jad had to leave behind when he left his old home.
The show will air in 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf starting in February.