On Wednesday June 17th, our newest member of the Sesame Street family, Raya traveled to Washington DC to spread the word to children and adults about the importance of using toilets, washing hands with soap, and using clean water. Her first stop was a visit with President of The World Bank, Dr. Jim Kim, where she talked about the important role that kids can play in global development. Hundreds of World Bank staffers, supporters, and children of WBG employees joined the event that was streamed live for over 700 people.
The World Bank has continued to support the development of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure in many areas of the world where children lack access to improved toilets or water sources. Sesame Street has a unique opportunity to complement the World Bank’s provision of toilets and wells with our research driven expertise in delivering educational messaging – triggering important WASH-related behavior change such as washing hands and wearing sandals to the toilet. In the words of Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey Dunn, “We’re the software and the World Bank is the hardware.”
With Raya as Sesame’s first-ever Global Health Ambassador, Sesame Street has committed to taking on the role of developing WASH “software” such as content, print and video materials, and health education programs for children in the most vulnerable areas. Raya’s visit on Wednesday allowed her, Sesame Street friend Count von Count, World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and Sesame Workshop President and CEO Jeffrey D. Dunn to talk to the World Bank family about the role that children play as active change agents in improving healthy habits in their communities.
Dr. Kim hopes that the World Bank’s partnership with Sesame Street will reach beyond sanitation. He elaborates, “I watched Sesame Street when I was young, and then for the last 15 years — I have a 15-year-old and a 6-year-old — I’ve been watching Sesame Street almost daily. And I can tell you that the very careful marriage of important themes that focus on social cohesion and kindness and including everyone, these are messages that have had a huge impact on my children, and even on me.” Dr. Kim hopes to work with Sesame Workshop not only on the issue of water and sanitation but also to support and amplify messages for children in order to, “pursue our twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.” Raya and the Count had a special meet and greet with Dr. Kim, answering questions from children and adults, and Raya even sang her favorite hand washing song.
Later in the afternoon, Raya was honored to sign the Women for Water & Sanitation Declaration with the Global Poverty Project and the UN Foundation in the Cannon House Office Building. There were over 110 congressional staffers in the room wherein Raya once again highlighted her messages about sanitation and hygiene. She spoke about the importance of clean water, proper hygiene, and sanitation for kids – especially girls. Raya also had a chance to listen to WASH advocates such as Congressman Poe (R-TX) and Katie Taylor of USAID.
Look out for more information on our emerging partnership with The World Bank in the coming months, and be sure follow Raya’s worldwide WASH adventures on her Instagram account @SesameRaya.