Millions of families in India are cut off from information that can help children grow up healthy, happy, and ready to learn. To get around the barriers that marginalize these families, Sesame Workshop India is using phones to make educational media an integral part of the community. The poor and deeply conservative village of Nagina in the Mewat district if Haryana does not have electricity. Children here have never seen a radio or TV before, let alone a Bollywood movie.
Yet there is one media source that’s breaking through in Nagina. In the evenings, children and parents gather around a mobile phone to tune in Radio Mewat, a nearby community radio station. What are they hearing? Laughter mixed with learning, as characters from Galli Galli Sim Sim talk about literacy and math lessons, as well as good nutrition and healthy habits like always washing hands before you eat.
As a college junior I had watched many of my peers graduate and enter the professional world. Many of my friends with similar interests and work experience fell into social media entry level positions, specifically communications. Because my small liberal arts college does not offer a Communications major I began to wonder what the draw was to public relations and communications outside of college. I wanted to know more. I needed a contact in the business to chat with. It is easy to search major PR firms online and compile a list, but without a name or some sort of connection I was in trouble.
Barbara Sawyer is the Director of Special Projects at the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) and has worked in the early care and education field for over thirty years. From the time Sesame’s Healthy Habits for Life initiative launched in the early 2000’s, the NAFCC has been a key partner with Sesame Workshop to deliver these crucial messages on nutrition and physical activity. With the NAFCC’s support and through their national network of providers, Healthy Habits for Life materials have reached thousands of children in family child care.
Last week in continuation of this partnership, Barbara joined with Sesame Workshop’s Outreach staffers at the NAFCC’s Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, to host a roundtable discussion of experts, representing the nutrition, physical activity, and early education fields.
Before the event, we caught up with Barbara to talk about family child care and the NAFCC’s work in obesity prevention.
Sesame Workshop: What can you tell me about the National Association for Family Child Care and the particular ways it supports child care providers?
Barbara Sawyer: The National Association for Family Child Care is a non-profit organization that promotes quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care. The goals of the association include strengthening state and local associations as the primary support system for individual family child care providers, promoting a professional accreditation program which recognizes and encourages quality care for children, and representing family child care providers by advocating for their needs and collaborating with other organizations. The NAFCC is one of the only membership organizations that is dedicated to family child care providers who work in their own home with primarily a small group of children. About 65% of these providers work independently and do not have an assistant; therefore they are the only adult with the children. One of the ways the NAFCC works to improve the quality of this care is by inviting the providers to belong to a peer support group.
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.
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.
Congratulations to the Growing Hope Against Hunger team, Chrissy Ferraro and the rest of Sesame Workshop on its two newest Emmy nominations!
Sesame Workshop has been nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Children’s Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Program category. Growing Hope Against Hunger, made possible by the generous support of Walmart and aired on PBS, makes manifest the invisible crisis in the United States, food insecurity, by introducing a new Muppet named Lily whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger. Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults and children to discuss. This one hour primetime television special presents families’ personal stories to raise awareness of hunger as well as strategies that have helped these families find resources and grow stronger together. In this special, Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams Paisley and the Sesame Street Muppets help families cope and live the healthiest life possible by providing the tools families need and by educating the general population about the widespread issue of hunger and food insecurity in the United States.
In addition, writer Christine Ferraro has been nominated for an Emmy in Writing, Nonfiction Programming for Sesame Street: Growing Hope Against Hunger. Christine Ferraro has been a writer for Sesame Street since 1994.
Sesame Street performer Eric Jacobson and his good pal Super Grover 2.0 stopped by this year’s Comic Con to bring smiles to the faces of the conventions youngest attendees. From the look of it everyone had a lot of fun!
Bill Ayres is the executive director of WhyHunger, an anti-hunger organization he co-founded in 1975. Summer is an important time of year to focus on child hunger, which Sesame Workshop’s Food For Thought outreach initiative is committed to battling. Ayres sat down with the Workshop to explain how his organization fights child hunger, why it is such an important issue during the summer months and why his organization utilizes the anti-hunger materials Sesame Workshop makes available.
To put it simply, Why hunger? Why, as Americans, is hunger an issue that we should be concerned about?
Well, that is our name: WhyHunger. We have that name because we are asking the question, why is there hunger in the richest country in the world? Why is there hunger in a world that can feed itself? Hunger is an obscenity. Hunger in America is the ultimate obscenity. There are about 17 million children and 49 million people all together that are food insecure. That means they aren’t starving but they miss meals and they eat less. They don’t get the right kinds of food. That is devastating for kids especially.
Sesame Workshop is excited to announce the launch of the second season of The Adventures of The Electric Company onPrankster Planet, the newest segment on our award-winning show The Electric Company.
The Electric Company has evolved since the iconic program first aired in 1971. Since the show was revived in 2009, we have utilized a variety of media to ensure that the show’s rigorously researched educational material, which has a renewed focus on math, helps six to nine-year-olds acquire the academic skills they need to achieve their full potential. Prankster Planet is at the heart of the show’s transmedia approach.
At the end of each episode, Marcus and Jessica will go on an adventure to try and stop tricky prankster Francine from causing chaos. But the story doesn’t end once the show is over. Kids are encouraged to go online to the new Prankster Planet website where they can play games that help them learn simple math equations, graphing, and data collection, representation and analysis.
Since the introduction of Prankster Planet 1.0 last season, millions of kids have visited the show’s website to have fun, interactive adventures, all the while building up their math and literacy skills. The show has won three Emmy’s for Outstanding Children’s Series in a row – every year since it was revived – and was also a recipient of the Parent’s Choice Gold Award for Television.