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October 30, 2013

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Beloved Sesame Street Characters to Promote Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption to Kids

By Sesame Workshop


Sesame Workshop and Produce Marketing Association joined the Partnership for a Healthier America to help make healthier choices easier for families

WASHINGTON, DC—First Lady Michelle Obama today announced that Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in a two-year agreement to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, making those healthy choices a little easier for parents and families to make.

The agreement allows PMA’s community of growers, suppliers and retailers to take advantage of the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee, using characters like Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby to help deliver messages about fresh fruits and vegetables. Sesame Street characters may be on produce in stores as early as mid-2014.

“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” said First Lady Michelle Obama today. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about – showing our kids that healthy food can be fun and that fruits and vegetables don’t just make us feel good, they taste good too.

In her remarks, the First Lady referenced a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine conducted by researchers at Cornell University. Researchers gave kids a choice between eating an apple, a cookie, or both and the vast majority of the kids chose the cookies. But when the researchers put Elmo stickers on the apples and let the kids choose again, nearly double the number of kids went for the apple.

“It’s no secret that many parents have a hard time getting kids excited about eating their fruits and vegetables,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “Today’s commitment helps all of us promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and gives parents and families a powerful, positive tool to help kids get excited about eating healthier foods.”

PHA works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to broker meaningful private sector commitments to ending the childhood obesity epidemic.

As part of its commitment to PHA, Sesame Workshop will:

  • Work with PMA to enable PMA and its community of growers, suppliers and retailers to utilize the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand and characters to deliver a message of encouragement for young children and their families to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables;
  • Provide a license to PMA free of charge for two years following launch of the program to make approved uses of the Sesame Street Muppet characters and elements of Sesame Workshop’s Healthy Habits for Life initiative when used to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption;
  • Enable PMA, through the license agreement, to provide access to, and oversee use of the Sesame Workshop assets by the PMA community; and,
  • Create a “produce promotion toolkit” and style guide to facilitate use of the Sesame Workshop assets in promotional activities. 

“Sesame Workshop has long been committed to the health and well-being of children through our longstanding Healthy Habits for Life initiative—since 2004, we have been integrating messages about healthy food choices and exercise into Sesame Street, the television program, in our community outreach and on our other off-air activities,” said H. Melvin Ming, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop.  “We are proud to work with the Produce Marketing Association and Partnership for a Healthier America to continue this important work.”

PMA will:

  • Review all requests by its growers, suppliers and retailers for Sesame Workshop assets for use in the promotion of fresh fruits and vegetables and permit use only on eligible products and according to the terms of the license agreement between Sesame Workshop and PMA;
  • Provide assistance and widely promote the opportunity to participate in the Sesame Workshop licensing program; and
  • Share with PHA the results over a two-year period from the Performance Start Date, with metrics including number of products given Sesame Workshop assets through the program, number of companies participating and estimated sales impact.

“One of the key challenges we face is competing for share of mind and share of plate,” said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission and immediate past chairman of PMA’s board of directors. “Other food marketers – companies who have seemingly endless budgets enabling them to position and sell their products, especially to kids – are steep competition. As a parent whose kids grew up with the Sesame Street characters, I’m thrilled to be a part of a program that will give the produce industry additional marketing opportunities for our naturally healthful products. The power of the Sesame Street brand is undeniable, especially given the trust parents have in it.”

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with – but independent from – First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased, third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit www.aHealthierAmerica.org and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.

Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit www.pma.com.

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the landmark television program that reaches millions of children every day in more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Delivered through a variety of platforms, Sesame Workshop develops research-based content – including television programs, books, games, mobile apps and community engagement initiatives – that supports early childhood learning, helps prepare children for school, and addresses developmental needs. The Workshop’s programs are tailored to the needs of specific regions and focus on topics that help young children and families develop critical skills for lifelong learning. For more information, visit us at www.sesameworkshop.org.

Media contacts:

Elly Spinweber, PHA
202.864.6053, news@ahealthieramerica.org

Meg Miller, PMA
302.607.2131, mmiller@pma.com

Beatrice Chow, Sesame Workshop
212.875.6586

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October 30, 2013

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Remembering Jerry Nelson

By Sesame Workshop


An original work of art by Carroll Spinney. Carroll plays the iconic Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch

Jerry Nelson, best known as the puppeteer of the iconic Count von Count, Herry Monster, Fat Blue, the Amazing Mumford and many more was a beloved member of the Sesame Street family for over 40 years. In a testament to the lasting impact his humor and talent made on the Sesame Street cast and crew, cast members Emilio Delgado and Sonia Manzano and puppeteer Fran Brill graciously offered remembrances of Jerry’s life and work. In addition puppeteer Carroll Spinney, best known for his work as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, drew an original work of art commemorating some of Jerry’s most famous characters.

On Thursday, Oct. 31, Sesame Street will honor his memory by airing a special Count Von Count episode. We hope you will tune in and celebrate the life and work of a man who holds a special place in the hearts of the entire Sesame Street family.  Read More

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October 24, 2013

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Vote for Elmo’s Halloween Costume!

By Sesame Workshop


Halloween is fast approaching, and Elmo is so excited! But he can’t decide what to dress up as! Can you help? He’s narrowed it down to three choices — a cowboy, a pizza-loving astronaut, and a circus clown. Vote below for your favorite!

Cowboy Elmo

Astronaut Elmo

Circus Elmo

online poll by Opinion Stage

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October 23, 2013

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The Story of the Sesame Street Dictionary: Parts 2 & 3

By Betsy Loredo


Betsy Loredo is the executive editor of Sesame Workshop’s publishing group.

PART 2: The Artist

Once you get to know Joe Mathieu a little better, it’s easy to see why he was the perfect choice  to illustrate the Sesame Street Dictionary.

He’s the one on the right above.

“Jim Henson encouraged me to go to the Muppet workshop and sketch and photograph the characters in the ‘morgue,’” Joe explained when he shared this shot with us. To tackle more than 1300 words, Random House author Linda Hayward, Sesame editor Anna Jane Hays, and Joe together intended to feature many obscure, cult-favorite characters from the show. For a list of the ones to look for in the finished book, check out Muppet WikiRead More

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October 21, 2013

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The Story of the Sesame Street Dictionary: Part 1

By Betsy Loredo


Betsy Loredo is the executive editor of Sesame Workshop’s publishing group.

PART 1: The Quest

How do you define a concept as big as “I” or as difficult as “easy” to someone as little as a 4-year-old? Go ahead – try explaining the words “of” or even “off”…using words that someone who still employs a binkie can understand.

Yup. Not so easy.

It’s certainly a whole lot simpler to express an idea like “alligator” or “banana.” A toothy green reptile is a concept that you can really wrap your mind around without one word of text, if you’ve got a telling piece of art:  Read More

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October 11, 2013

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Sesame Street Teaches Literacy with New Digital Destination

By Graydon Gordian


By the age of four, a child from a high-income family has been exposed to 35 million more words than a child from a low-income family. Low-income children miss out on over 400 hours of literacy-related activities that high-income children experience. This gap in literacy and vocabulary must be closed. That’s why Sesame Workshop has partnered with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, known as the IICF, to launch Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day, a digital resource that will help children improve their reading and writing skills from an early age.

Every Day is  Reading and Writing Day includes videos, games, and activities for children and parents that will help young children develop the critical literacy abilities they need as they enter kindergarten. It also includes tips for parents, caregivers and volunteers who are looking for effective ways to encourage the children in their lives to read and write.

This wonderful multimedia educational tool wouldn’t be possible without the support of the IICF. Since 1994, the IICF has provided grants, volunteer service and leadership to communities throughout the country. By partnering with Sesame Workshop, the IICF’s commitment to improving literacy rates across America has found a furry and fun-filled expression online.

To learn more about the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation and all the work it does to support communities and enrich lives across the United States, click here. To explore the videos, games and other digital tools Sesame is using to increase literacy across the country, click here.

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October 10, 2013

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The State of STEM Education: an Online Panel

By Graydon Gordian


For years the United States’ position as a global leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects – has been in jeopardy. Children in countries around the world are consistently outperforming U.S. students in the STEM subjects. According to the National Math and Science Initiative, 60 percent of the new jobs created in the coming years will require STEM-related skillsets that only 20 percent of the population possesses.

It is imperative that our children be better prepared to achieve academically and professionally in the fields of science and math. That is why, for years, teaching STEM has been a central element of Sesame Workshop’s curriculum. While we do not often associate the STEM subjects with early education, there are ways we can prepare our children for the type of critical thinking and curiosity that are essential if a person is going to achieve in science and math later on in life. That’s why Sesame Workshop created Little Discoverers: Big Fun with Science, Math and More, a digital, interactive destination will include games, engaging videos, and hands-on activities aimed at inspiring young children to laugh and smile while they incorporate STEM concepts into everyday moments.

As part of our effort to encourage STEM education at an early age, Rocio Galarza, Sesame Workshop’s senior director of family and community engagement, will be participating in an online panel hosted by Teach for America, titled “Opportunities in STEM Education.” We encourage you to join in on the conversation.

In order to view and participate in the webinar, which beings at 8 p.m. EST this evening, click here.

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October 02, 2013

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A Day in the Life of a Sesame Street Live Performer

By Carlos Ivan Irizarry


Carlos Ivan Irizarry is performs as Bert in the Sesame Street Live production “Make a New Friend.” We’d like to thank Carlos for giving us a glimpse into the daily life of a Sesame Street Live performer.

My life as a Sesame Street Live performer is awesome. It’s amazing to bring the Sesame Street characters to life on stage across the country. I play Bert in Sesame Street Live “Make a New Friend.” I’m also a backup dancer, so I dress as a giant chocolate chip cookie for Cookie Monster’s “Me Want Cookie” solo, and wear a sparkling gold jacket to dance with Count Von Count in “Count Me In.” These roles allow me to see the crowd through my own eyes, as well as Bert’s. I find myself smiling no matter what costume I’m wearing, as the families in the crowd are so excited.  Read More

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September 27, 2013

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New Season of Sesame Square Launches in Nigeria

By Graydon Gordian


Kami, Zobi and the fun and furry Muppets of Sesame Square, the Nigerian version of the beloved Sesame Street, are back with a brand new season. The show, which first debuted in May, 2011, brings critical lessons about literacy, numeracy, girls’ empowerment, and health and hygiene to young children across the West African nation.

In a country where early childhood education is scarce and diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS are all too common, the educational lessons spread throughout Nigeria by Sesame Square are crucial. This new season features a brand new animated segment,  Adventures of Kami and Big Bird, while previous seasons of Sesame Square are currently being dubbed into Hausa, the predominant language in Northern Nigeria.   Read More

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September 25, 2013

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The Story Behind Sesame Street’s Family Play App

By J Milligan


J Milligan is the Creative Director of Sesame Workshop’s Innovation Lab.

A couple of years ago I heard a woman named Margaret Robertson give an amazing talk at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. She worked for a design studio called Hide & Seek with offices in London and New York that was chiefly interested in the concept play. They seemed really cool and I started following them, thinking that someday we might find a way to work with them on something.

This past spring, Hide & Seek launched a Kickstarter campaign for a project called Tiny Games. It was for: “An app that gets you playing the perfect game with your friends: wherever you are, whoever you’re with, whatever you’re doing.” The games took place in the real world, the iPhone just told you how to play. Get some cutlery and play a form of rock/paper/scissors with the forks, spoons and knives. That sort of thing. I loved how they used the phone to generate games that you played with friends and things wherever you were, not on the screen. I thought we could do something like that for parents to play with their kids. And when Hide & Seek posted that they were considering a “Kids” section of the app, I knew I had to act quickly. Read More

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