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Author Archives: Graydon Gordian

April 17, 2012

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Helping Military Families Heal: A Conversation with Lee Woodruff

By Graydon Gordian


Lee Woodruff and her husband Bob, who was injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2006.

Lee Woodruff is the co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the mission of which is to provide resources and support to injured service members, veterans and their families. For years Lee, her husband Bob Woodruff and Sesame Workshop have worked together to help military families stay strong as they experience the many challenging transitions that accompany military service. On Wednesday, April 18, Lee and her husband will be moderating a Sesame Workshop panel on military families which will include such esteemed guests as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Patty Shinseki, board member of the Military Child Education Coalition and advisor for Joining Forces, a White House initiative that brings attention to the needs and sacrifices of veterans, service members, military families and their children, and encourages action to provide broad-based American support to them.

To learn more about the work Sesame Workshop does with military families, visit Sesame Workshop’s Military Families page. To watch the Sesame Workshop panel on military families live on April 18, click here.

Sesame Workshop: Tell me about the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the particular way it goes about bettering the lives of service-members and their families.

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Service is More than a Word: Sesame’s Carmen Osbahr on Military Families

By Graydon Gordian


Carmen Osbahr is a performer on Sesame Street. She is best known for her performance of Rosita, a Spanish-speaking monster who has appeared on Sesame Street since 1991. In addition to her work on the show, Carmen plays a major role in Sesame Workshop’s military families initiative. She and Kevin Clash, who performs Elmo, perform for the children of military families at USO shows both in the United States and abroad, making up just one part of the work we do with the USO. We recently sat down with Carmen to learn more about the work she does with the USO and how working with military families became so important to her.

To learn more about the work Sesame Workshop does with military families, click here.

Sesame Workshop: You recently came back from a USO tour. Tell me a bit about the work you’ve done with the USO in the past.

Carmen Osbahr: That was our second tour. The first one was in 2010. At the end of the year we went to Germany, where the USO took us to two military bases. It worked out so well that this time they took us to Guam and Hawaii. It was really cool.

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April 11, 2012

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Sim Sim Hamara’s Performance from Pakistan’s International Puppet Day

By Graydon Gordian


Two weeks ago Sim Sim Hamara, the Pakistani version of Sesame Street, celebrated International Puppet Day in Lahore. Our partners at Rafi Peer Theater Workshop, whom Senior Vice President of Global Education Charlotte Cole recently wrote about, sent us a video of a puppet show from that day. Everyone’s having such a great time that not showing you didn’t feel right. Stick around til the end when they sing the Sim Sim Hamara theme song. It might be the most relaxing of all the international co-production theme songs.

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April 10, 2012

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USO and Sesame Street Launch New Military Families Tour

By Graydon Gordian


The longest running tour in the history of the USO hit the road again this week when the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families kicked off its latest adventure at the Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Between now and November the tour will stop at 65 military installations around the country and put on more than 235 shows. The tour features Elmo, Rosita, Cookie Monster, Grover, Honker and Katie, a new character created specifically for the tour to help children of military families deal with the challenges of relocation. Get a closer look at the fun everyone had at the tour’s inaugural show by clicking through the photos below. And be sure to stop back by SesameWorkshop.org throughout April, month of the military child, to learn more about the way our organization supports the families of the brave men and women who serve our country.

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April 05, 2012

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Sesame Street Celebrates Baseball’s Opening Day

By Graydon Gordian


Baseball season is back and here at Sesame Workshop we’re excited. Ever since the great Jackie Robinson appeared on Sesame Street‘s first season to help children learn the alphabet, baseball and baseball players have been a huge part of keeping our educational content fun and engaging. Baseball has been a demonstrative tool in countless scenes from the show, such as the scene featuring Grover above. Some of the shows most beloved celebrity guests have also been baseball players: Who can forget Mookie Wilson and Keith Hernandez’s appearance in the classic “Put Down the Duckie”?

In order to celebrate Opening Day and the long tradition of featuring baseball on Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop archivist Susan Tofte dug up old photos from some of the times baseball players have hung out with Big Bird, Elmo and the rest of the gang.

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April 04, 2012

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Sesame Workshop Supports World Autism Awareness Day

By Graydon Gordian


According to Autism Speaks, a leading autism awareness organization, autism affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. In the last 40 years the prevalence of autism has grown ten-fold. It affects more children than AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. That’s why, on Monday, Sesame Workshop was proud to take part in World Autism Awareness day. People around the office wore blue to show our support for the children who are living with autism and the dedicated medical professionals who are working to better understand and help treat it.

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Sesame Workshop Partners with van Gogh Museum to Celebrate Sesamstraat Anniversary

By Graydon Gordian


From left to right: Ernie, Bert, Ienie Menie, Tommie, Elmo, Pino and Purk

On this date in 1853, Vincent Van Gogh was born in Zundert, Netherlands. In October 1888, Van Gogh painted his first version of Bedroom in Arles, an iconic work of post-impressionist art. In December, 2011, Bert, Ernie and Elmo made a couple of… “improvements” to Van Gogh’s masterpiece.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Sesamstraat, the Dutch version of Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop partnered with the Amsterdam-based Vincent van Gogh Museum, where Bedroom in Arles hangs, to recreate a version of the famous painting featuring Elmo, Bert, Ernie and the beloved Sesamstraat MuppetsTM  Ienie Mienie, Tommie, Purk and Pino. The special painting, which was unveiled by Sesamstraat actor Frank Groothof, was on display at the museum in December 2011.

To keep your good ear to the ground and learn more about Sesamstraat and all of our international co-productions, visit Sesame Workshop’s “around the world” page.

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March 29, 2012

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Pakistan’s Sim Sim Hamara Celebrates International Puppet Day

By Graydon Gordian


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The loveable puppets from Sim Sim Hamara, the Pakistani version of Sesame Street, recently took part in Pakistan’s 9th annual Folk Festival of Contemporary and Traditional Puppetry. On Wednesday, March 21, before an audience of 2500 children at the Rafi Peer Cultural Center in Lahore, Rani, a beloved Sim Sim Hamara’s puppet, helped inaugurate the festival by cutting a ribbon and releasing hundreds of colorful balloons into the sky. Then Rani and the rest of the Sim Sim Hamara gang spent the rest of International Puppet Day, which marks the first day of the festival, singing the show’s theme song and playing with all the children in attendance.

To learn more about Sim Sim Hamara, Sesame Workshop’s local partner Rafi Peer Theater Workshop, and the rest of the educational efforts in Pakistan, click here. Funding for Sim Sim Hamara is made possible through the support of USAID from the American people.

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Sesame Workshop Partners with Planet Water to Promote Clean Water in Asia

By Graydon Gordian


From the Planet Water PSA starring Elmo

2.6 billion people don’t have access to clean sanitation water and 72% of them live in Asia. Unsafe drinking water is a major cause of diarrhea, which is the second leading killer of children. Over 880 million people in the world lack access to safe drinking water and 55% of them live in Asia.

Water health and hygiene is one of the major issues facing young children in Asia. That’s why Sesame Workshop has teamed up with Planet Water to launch the Asia Water-for-Life project. Beginning in Indonesia and expanding into the Philippines, Vietnam and India over the next few months, this multimedia educational program, which includes a social media campaign and PSAs starring Elmo, teaches children about basic hygienic practices like hand washing and why failing to do so encourages the spread of germs. The beloved Sesame Street MuppetsTM will play a critical role in ensuring young Asian children learn these important lessons.

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The Evolution of a Sesame Street iPad App

By Graydon Gordian


Thorough research provides the foundation of everything Sesame Workshop produces. Whether it’s a book, a game or an episode of our flagship program Sesame Street, our early childhood education experts spend hours working with parents and young children to ensure that all of our educational material, no matter what medium it comes in, is both fun and effective. That policy hasn’t changed as new technologies have allowed us to bring our educational efforts to new venues, such as applications for tablets and smart phones. In fact, the simple nature of updating apps has allowed us to continue scrutinizing the effectiveness of our educational material even after it’s been published.

Take the recently updated version of our first book app for iPad, The Monster at the End of This Book, based on the classic book of the same name. Although the app, made in collaboration with Callaway Digital Arts, was tested before release to ensure that it was educational, navigable and entertaining, we received feedback suggesting some parents and children were not fully utilizing the app’s user interface. Even little hiccups can hamper the effectiveness of an app’s educational aims, so our research team went back and took another look at it. They found there were ways to make the app even more user-friendly.

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