Sherrie Westin (bio) is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Sesame Workshop. Recently, she spent a week traveling with the Department of Defense Joint Civilian Operations Conference, which she recounts below.
One of my favorite moments from my recent week with the military was flying out on a Chinook helicopter, with the back door wide open, watching the other helicopters following in formation. We had just been “rescued” from a scene right out of Iraq, but it was at Fort Bragg Army base.
Helping children persevere through changes and transitions is a critical part of Sesame Street’s mission. That’s why Sesame Workshop, the educational non-profit behind the iconic children’s show, is proud to announce Little Children, Big Challenges, a new outreach initiative dedicated to building skills for resilience in children ages 2–5 to help them persevere through day-to-day as well as more difficult challenges.
Learning from mistakes; making new friends; resolving conflicts: these are the kinds of early childhood struggles with which Little Children, Big Challenges will help young kids cope. The initiative will help children from every background, including those of military and veteran families, remain resilient while working through these and other challenges.
The bilingual (English/Spanish) initiative will feature online, interactive resources for parents and children, as well as the “What We Are” anthem, which you can watch above. The anthem will be performed live by the Quantico Marine Corps band, Sesame Street’s Gordon, Elmo and Rosita, and Matt Rogers, the host of Lifetime’s Coming Home, at a special event aboard the Intrepid this Saturday, May 26.
Major support for Little Children Big Challenges is provided by BAE Systems, Inc. Generous support is provided by The Prudential Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the USO, and Military Child Education Coalition.
To learn more about how Sesame Workshop is helping children build resilience, visit Sesame Street’s military families website or the Little Children, Big Challenges page at SesameStreet.org, which will launch Friday.
Over 40 years after she co-founded Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney remains as dedicated to educating children in underserved communities as ever. That’s why Girls Prep Bronx Elementary School, which names each class after a successful woman its students should emulate, named its kindergarten class after Mrs. Cooney.
The students are so appreciative of Mrs. Cooney’s support that they asked Elmo to stop by the school, located in the South Bronx, so they could record a special message thanking her.
Joan Ganz Cooney became the kindergarten class’ “namesake” in 2009. Many of the students at Girls Prep come from poor backgrounds. 100 percent of the students are African-American, Latina or of multi-racial decent. Children in communities like the South Bronx are the kind of students Mrs. Cooney was hoping to reach when Sesame Street first aired in 1969. And although they move onto the class of a different inspiring woman after they graduate kindergarten, the foundations for a lifetime of education are established while the girls are in the “JGC” class, as it is known. Every girl in the JGC class has signed the Commitment to College Completion and has a college savings account established by the school.
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, is committed to the future of children’s educational media in China. That’s why last week we launched the Sesame StreetChina website, a new online resource with activities and videos for children and tips for Chinese parents.
The site is made up of three sections, titled “The Show,” “Grown-ups,” and “Meet Sesame Street.” The first includes segments from Sesame Street’s Big Bird Looks at the World, the Chinese version of Sesame Street, created in partnership with Shanghai Media Group’s Toonmax. “Grown-ups” has professional parenting tips to help Chinese families with their children’s mental, physical and emotional development. And “Meet Sesame Street” has information about Sesame Workshop’s research model, our historical international educational efforts both inside and outside China and the Workshops’ key partners. The website is also highly interconnected with Weibo and Kaixin, two extremely popular Chinese social media networks.
Sesame Workshop first began helping Chinese children fulfill their full potential in 1983 when we collaborated with CCTV to create Big Bird in China. With the launch of the Sesame Street China website, we’re proud to continue that tradition.
The Mandela family, Mayor Bloomberg and Grover at an event for the Zenani Campaign on May 2.
“Every year almost 1.3 million people are killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads – and many of those victims are children. That is simply unacceptable.”
Those words, spoken by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week, are taken very seriously here at Sesame Workshop. Continuing its support of the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street is working with partners from around the world to help raise awareness and promote safe road practices. Most recently, we teamed up with Mayor Bloomberg and the family of former South African President Nelson Mandela to help support the Zenani Campaign, aimed at increasing road protection for children, especially those in developing countries.
According to some estimates by 2015 road crashes will be the number one killer of children in Africa, surpassing both Malaria and AIDS. Nelson Mandela himself has already lost a young family member to a traffic accident: Zenani Mandela, for whom the campaign is named.
Promoting the health and wellbeing of children the world over is at the core of Sesame Workshop’s mission. That’s why Sesame Street’s Road Safety Ambassador Grover and the rest of the Sesame Street family are happy to lend their support to the road safety education and outreach initiatives being pioneered by the Mandela family and the United Nations.
To learn more about the work we do to encourage road safety, click here.
At Sesame Street we love spoofing cultural touchstones. It’s a great way to bring smiles to the faces of parents, and humoring parents along with children has been a goal of the show since its beginning. Recently, to help promote a new series of home videos, we’ve been spoofing classic posters and pop art. Our playful versions of iconic propaganda posters such as Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam for our “Bye Bye Pacifier” home video were very popular, but our art department’s most recent creation may be my favorite so far.
To celebrate the release of our “Singing with the Stars” DVD, Sesame Workshop artist Diana Leto created a parody of the cover of the Beatles iconic album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Diana and Art Director Mark Magner pulled from Sesame Street’s vast library of characters to create an intricate reimagining of the album’s cover art.
Ed. Note: Louis Henry Mitchell is the Associate Design Director of Special Projects. He was recently tasked with drawing chalk murals of the Sesame Street MuppetsTM on the 8th floor of Sesame Workshop’s offices. The drawings have become an office favorite, so we invited Louis to talk about his creative process.
When Sesame Workshop’s CEO Mel Ming asked me to draw murals on the recently opened 8th floor of Sesame Workshop’s offices, I was excited and intrigued. Despite having been a professional artist for 35 years and having worked with Sesame for 20 of those, the murals presented some real challenges. I had worked on a black background before but never to this degree of detail, and, except for Elmo I had never drawn such large versions of some of the characters. Read More
Promoting the health and wellbeing of children around the world is a critical part of Sesame Workshop’s mission. That’s why we’re excited to support USAID’s Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday child survival campaign. The above video, which pulls together footage from our international co-productions, highlights the importance of vaccination campaigns, hand washing, malaria control and HIV anti-stigma efforts to our educational content across the globe.
To learn more about “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” campaign, please click here. To learn more about Sesame Workshop’s work around around the world, please click here.
Sesame Workshop is dedicated to creating fun, educational experiences for children on any platform possible. TV Shows, books, tablet applications: If it can be used to educate children, we’ll explore its potential. But sometimes there’s nothing more fun than creating an entirely new world for children to roam around in. That’s what we’ve done in Japan, where a new “Sesame Street Fun World” has recently been unveiled at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. Inside the new Elmo Exploratorium you can climb around in Big Bird’s Big Nest (a net-shaped jungle gym), build anything you can imagine at Grover’s Construction Company or have a healthy snack at Cookie Monster’s Kitchen. Check out photos from the new “Sesame Street Fun World” below, and click here to learn more about Sesame Street Japan and all of our international co-productions.