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July 01, 2013

By Anita Stewart

Let’s Get Ready! How Partnerships Enable us to Effect Change Around the World

Anita Stewart is the Senior Vice President of Global Strategic Partnerships and Development here at Sesame Workshop.

Natural disasters affect children and families all over the world. When they happen, they are inevitably difficult and confusing, especially for young children. For years, Sesame Workshop  has developed materials for young children in their families centered around emergency preparedness for this exact reason. We can’t predict when a disaster will strike, but if children know what to do and families have a plan, the fears from being caught off-guard can be mitigated.

Children everywhere are affected by emergencies. Take, for example, the over 100 million children under the age of seven in China. That’s more than the entire population of Canada, Chile, and Spain — grown-ups included! — combined. Emergency preparedness is just as important for them as it is for children anywhere else, and to fulfill our philanthropic mission, the team here at Sesame needs to find ways to help them. 

That’s why we’re excited to have the unique opportunity to partner with Qualcomm. In 2006, Qualcomm developed its Wireless Reach Initiative, a drive to bring wireless technology to underserved communities globally. In almost a decade, the Initiative has created dozens of projects in 27 countries. Recently, these efforts have included innovative projects in China. The Wireless Reach Initiative has enabled new subsequent technologies and empowered underprivileged communities and children in ways unimaginable even ten years ago.

With Qualcomm’s help, we are now able to bring Elmo and Grover — and, more importantly, tools to help families prepare for emergencies — to children in previously difficult to reach areas of China. Our project, called Let’s Get Ready, uses a mobile website, a mobile application and fun content to create an interactive and engaging learning experience for preschool children. With the China Youth Development Foundation advising on content and China Telecom hosting the application, Let’s Get Ready emphasizes the importance of knowing your full name and address, having an emergency plan, packing an emergency kit, and learning about people and places within the community that can help in an emergency. This project is an extension of the emergency preparedness kits that we successfully distributed to 120,000 children in 15 Chinese provinces last year.

The advent and adoption of mobile technologies is a game-changer in many arenas, and the education of our youngest children is no exception. By making the content available on mobile devices, using the friendly and colorful faces of the Sesame Street Muppets, we are confident to maximize impact.  Combining Sesame Workshop’s expertise in early childhood education and Qualcomm’s cutting-edge mobile technologies, we hope to improve the lives of millions of children around the world.

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