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Author Archives: Dan Lewis

March 19, 2014

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Cleaner, Healthier, Happier

By Dan Lewis


2.5 Billion people currently do not have access to safe toilets. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program focuses on the development of tools and technologies that can lead to sustainable and marked improvements in sanitation in the developing world. Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, has been selected to join the 2014 “Reinvent The Toilet Fair: India” to showcase critical health messages as part of its Cleaner, Healthier, Happier campaign designed to reach children and families across Bangladesh, India and Nigeria.

Along with the Workshop’s delegation at the fair, Sesame’s newest member of its Muppet family, Raya, a 6-year-old, fuzzy, aqua-green girl, was introduced to the world for the first time. Brian Arbogast, Director of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sat down for a chat with our new friend, Raya.

Brian: Raya, it is so nice to meet you. Can you tell me why you are in India today?

Raya: Thank you. It’s nice to meet you too.  Everyone loves a fair, Mr. Brian! You say the word ‘fair’ and I’ll get there as fast as my sandals will carry me.

Brian: I noticed that you wear your sandals everywhere. Do you know why that’s important?

Raya: Of course I do, Mr. Brian! I know lots of things. I make sure to wear my sandals everywhere—especially to the latrine. Wearing my sandals helps protect me so I can stay clean and healthy.

Brian: That’s very smart, Raya.

Raya: Well, thank you. Do you want to know what else I know? I know that it is also really important to wash my hands with soap every time I use the latrine. Clean hands means healthy Raya. Healthy Raya means happy Raya. There’s nothing better than being clean, healthy and happy!

Brian: You know a lot about being healthy, Raya! It’s hard to believe you are only six years old.

Raya: Well, thank you,  Mr. Brian. You’re really nice! It’s hard to believe you aren’t furry or feathered.

Brian: Thanks, Raya. That’s the nicest thing I’ve heard in a while. And thank you so much for chatting with me today.

Raya: It’s my pleasure–very nice to talking with you too. I have to go now. Time to wash-up for dinner. See you soon. Bye!

 

This blog post originally ran at ImpatientOptimists.org

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February 19, 2014

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John Henson, 1965-2014

By Dan Lewis


With great sadness, we share the news of the passing of John Henson, son of the late Jim and Jane Henson and a puppeteer in his own right. He will be missed by his extended Sesame Workshop family.

To learn more about his life and legacy, please visit the Jim Henson Company’s Facebook page.

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May 01, 2013

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How to Read Comics: Part I

By Dan Lewis


Elmo can help with lots of things. Even reading comic books.

Stay tuned for more information about the Sesame Street comic book available as part of Free Comic Book Day on Saturday.

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February 15, 2013

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Cookie Monster or Grover: Who Spoofed it Better?

By Dan Lewis


In October of 2010, everyone’s favorite, lovable, adorable, furry pal Grover took to YouTube to explain the word “on.” His adventure began in a shower, took him to a boat, and ended up on a horse cow.

And last year, Cookie Monster, the vociferous cookievore himself, showed us that everything — even eating cookies! — is better when you share.

Cookie Monster or Grover.

Call Me Maybe or the Old Spice Guy.

Who did it better?

You decide:

online poll by Opinion Stage

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December 17, 2012

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Talking to Children about Recent Events: Our Resources for Parents and Caregivers

By Dan Lewis


The tragic events from Friday morning left the nation shocked, horrified, and speechless. But while often, adults can’t find the words to express the anguish we’re feeling, the children in our lives still have questions and fears.

“What’s happened?”

“Are we safe?”

“I’m scared.”

As parents and caregivers, we want to help our children through this, and make sense of the words and imagery they are seeing on TV an other media. Over the course of decades, Sesame Street has been asked these very questions, and we’ve put together a packet of materials in hopes of helping families cope with these issues. Those materials, available here (as a pdf), are free for you to download. You may also view our Emergency PSA’s available on YouTube. While we can’t make the concerns go away, we hope these materials help you address the recent tragedy, and other emergency situations, with the children in your lives.

 

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August 02, 2012

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A Look Into Sesame Workshop’s Digital Media Endeavors

By Dan Lewis


Where there’s a screen, there’s a child. And where there’s a child, there’s an opportunity for an educational experience. In our increasingly fragmented media landscape, this means a necessary foray into all things digital. So naturally, Sesame Workshop is actively engaging children there. Whether it is via web-based games and videos, podcasts, YouTube, or a seemingly endless cornucopia of other platforms, Elmo and his friends will be there.

Our newest feature story here on SesameWorkshop.org describes our efforts in this sector over the last decade both in the United States and abroad. Read it here.

 

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July 27, 2012

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Sesame Workshop Brings Educational Radio to Children in Afghanistan

By Dan Lewis


Baghch-e-Simsim — Sesame Garden in both Dari and Pashto — debuted on two television stations in Afghanistan in December of 2011. With only a small percentage of the five million Afghani children likely to attend Kodakistans (the country’s kindergarten system), Baghch-e-Simsim was designed to be the first step in finding ways to meet the growing need for early childhood education there. And with radio being the most accessible media for Afghan households, a series of radio episodes of Baghch-e-Simsim was the natural next step.

This week, Sesame Workshop and Equal Access International announced 78 such episodes, 39 of which are in Dari and the other half in Pashto. Each 20-minute radio episode features a letter and number of the day, caregiver tips, and of course, the Sesame magic seen around the world.

Speak Dari? You can listen to a clip here. Pashto? Click here.

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February 27, 2012

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Tweeting the Clouds Away

By Dan Lewis


Tomorrow  – February 28th – we’ll be trying something new here at Sesame Workshop. A few of us are going to be tweeting about what we’re up to, giving others a glimpse into the work we do here at Sesame Workshop.  We’re visiting potential funders, working on handwashing habits in Indonesia, preparing for an event Thursday (stay tuned!), and a few other things.  If you follow us on Twitter at @SesameWorkshop, we’ll be retweeting some of the updates from:

  • Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, @srwestin
  • Patrick Key, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Development, @PatrickKeySW
  • Dan Donohue, Senior Director, Global Education, @DJD007NYC
  • Giao Roever, Director, Marketing and Creative Services, @GiaoRoever
  • And me, Dan Lewis, Director, New Media Communications, @DanDotLewis

See you tomorrow!

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January 26, 2012

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To Square One TV, With Love

By Dan Lewis


Twenty-five years ago today, my life changed for the better. Twenty-five years ago today, Square One TV debuted.

Square One was a thirty minute delight featuring short sketches about math. There was Mathman, a math-parody of Pac-Man, who would go around the game board looking for tasty numbers to eat — but only ones which met the rule of the day. (Fans of the show can probably hear the voice in their head: “Mathman, Mathman, multiples of three, multiples of three, Mathman.”) The show had miniature game shows, like Piece of the Pie and But Who’s Adding?, featuring regular children as contestants. It had math-teaching music videos like Nine, Nine, Nine (“times any number you can find, it all comes back to nine”) and Less Than Zero (“a certified, nationwide klutz”). There was Dirk Niblick, Blackstone, Mathcourt, and more.

And of course — of course! — there was MathNet, which closed every episode with a piece of a week-long story. Be it the kidnapping of Steve Stringbean or the complicated confidence scam perpetuated by the mysterious swami, these MathNet memories are ingrained deep in my psyche. Trying to figure out how George Frankly and Kate Monday (or Pat Tuesday!) would solve the case became an obsession; tuning in on Friday to have the answer revealed became a core part of my week.

It was math. And it was wonderful.

The nine year old me did not know it at the time, but like everything else we do at Sesame Workshop, Square One was designed to address an educational need of children. In this case, Square One‘s goal was to address the “math crisis” of eight to 12 year olds in the United States, using media to help teach mathematical concepts in an enjoyable fashion. And while writing this blog post for the organization which created the show appears self-serving, if you’ve spoken to me about Square One, you know that I can still sing significant parts of 8% Percent of My Love (and have also reserved 10% of my love for the New York Football Giants; sorry Patriots fans) while reciting esoteric plot points from series of MathNet. Does anyone else remember the kid who tried to sell George the $50,000 pencil? He only needed to sell one!

Happy birthday, Square One TV. And may you avoid Mr. Glitch.

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