Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us wants, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street.
On Tuesday night the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) hosted their sixth annual Heroes Gala, and Sesame Workshop co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney and her husband, Chairman Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations Peter G. Peterson, were honored at the event. Mrs. Ganz Cooney received the IAVA’s 2012 Civilian Service Award in recognition of all the work Sesame Workshop does to help military families, but in particular Sesame’s Talk, Listen, Connect outreach initiative, which focuses on providing military parents with the tools they need to discuss complex issues like deployment, relocation, injury and the loss of a parent with their children.
“Many parents don’t have the right words to help explain to their child what happens when they must go away, how to reassure their children when they return from service injured, or worst of all, when a parent dies,” Mrs. Ganz Cooney said while accepting the award. “But with the right language, support, and the help of the Muppets, we are able to help. Since its launch, our Talk, Listen, Connect initiative has grown to reach virtually every U.S. military family with young children.”
Mrs. Ganz Cooney went on to thank the IAVA, saying, “It makes it all the more meaningful to receive this honor from an organization that is working every day to advocate for and support our veterans and their families.”
We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a close, and we are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode.
In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a then 23 year old man who alleged that he had a relationship beginning when he was 16 years old with Kevin Clash, a Sesame Workshop puppeteer who performs as Elmo.
We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action. We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation. We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. Although this was a personal relationship unrelated to the workplace, our investigation did reveal that Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage and he was disciplined.
Kevin insists that the allegation of underage conduct is false and defamatory and he is taking actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so.
Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world, as it has for 40 years.
On Sunday over 20,000 people will march down New York City’s 5th Avenue in celebration of and appreciation for our nation’s veterans, and Sesame Workshop is proud to stand alongside them. The annual New York City Veterans Day Parade, the largest in the country, has been just one part of the many ways Americans show our thanks to our veterans and their families for 93 years.
This year, Sesame Workshop did a little something extra to say thank you: Associate Design Director of Special Projects Louis Henry Mitchell created the above painting as a special way of saying thank you to all the men and women who either currently or once served in our nation’s military and their families. On Thursday Mitchell and other members of the Sesame Workshop team presented it to the United War Veterans Council, which puts on the Veterans Day Parade. Read More
After Hurricane Sandy struck, Sesame Workshop sprang into action. Elmo took to the airwaves to calm children and help them understand the disorder surrounding them. We used our social media outlets to make sure as many affected families as possible were aware of the resources and tools offered by our hurricane outreach kit. And this Friday we’re airing a very special episode of Sesame Street. Read More
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, and yet it is one of the most common environmental health problems for American children under the age of six. That’s why UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop partnered to provide parents with helpful prevention information, encourage lead testing and share tips to help families stay healthy. Read More
Ed. Note: Rachel Garber is a writer and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sesame Street was in San Francisco last week to catch some of the annual October sunshine that gets San Franciscans through its famously cold summers. On Oct. 16, students at ER Taylor Elementary chattered excitedly to each other on the blacktop, but not about the weather: They were talking about their teeth.
“I brush for three minutes—not two, just to be safe,” one 5th grader bragged to his friends as his class waited to have their teeth examined by volunteer dentists. Their school participated in a three-day dental screening program Oct. 15-17 in San Francisco, as part of the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Give Kids a Smile initiative. Read More
Last week, I had the privilege of traveling to San Francisco to be a part of the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile oral health screening program, which took place at two elementary schools and a hospital over the course of three days. In collaboration with the San Francisco Dental Society, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Colgate’s Bright Future, Bright Smiles program, and the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, over 2,000 San Francisco children received free oral health screenings and education on those three days. We were a part of these events for our work on our Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me outreach initiative, with the ADA distributing over 2,000 of the Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me kits to all of the participating children, along with free toothbrushes and toothpaste. Read More
By Susan Tofte
How would you update a classic? Take a treasured story from one era and spruce it up for a new century’s readers?
Sesame Workshop has produced over 1200 books in a variety of formats since the early 1970s. Part of the philosophy of our publishing group is the willingness to tell stories in whatever formats will attract and reach preschoolers. Animated book apps and e-books are the most recent formats in which Sesame Street characters have come to life. For the Workshop, an eagerness to create books in emerging digital formats is tempered by the need to balance innovation with our mission of education. It is a delicate balancing act, but one that the Workshop’s publishing group has pulled off time and time again. Read More