Creating heart-healthy habits with fun, fur, and games.
Sesame Workshop is committed to helping kids grow up strong and healthy, here in the United States and around the world.
Research has shown that the Muppets — such as Lola and Pancho, two colorful characters from the Latin American version of Sesame Street — have the power to help children develop positive eating and exercise habits, a recipe for lifelong health.
Colombia, like so many countries, faces an epidemic of obesity and related illness. Cardiovascular disease claims more lives there each year than do violence, hunger, and communicable diseases combined. Behind the trend are changing lifestyles and cultural attitudes, especially around food, as families leave rural areas and traditional ways behind.
Broadcast throughout the Americas and produced locally, our Plaza Sésamo production reaches millions of kids at an age when they’re most receptive to healthy influences. The long-standing show and its lovable Muppets have gained enormous trust and popularity in the region, leading to an alliance in 2006 with Dr. Valentin Fuster, director of the renowned Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Dr. Fuster is the driving force behind an ambitious campaign to promote cardiovascular health education in the developing world. Together, Sesame Workshop, Dr. Fuster, and a powerful consortium of on-the-ground partners, such as Colombian NGOs, government agencies, and Fundación Cardioinfantil, are working to make heart-healthy habits part of everyday Colombian life, starting with kids.
The lovable Muppets of Plaza Sésamo give Dr. Fuster’s message lively expression, modeling positive behaviors in ways that engage children — such as in a song about tasty fruits that feed ”big boys” and “smart princesses,” or an energizing video about fun-filled adventures. Healthy lessons such as these enliven the 50 Plaza Sésamo episodes, many drawing on Colombia’s native foods, festivals, and dance traditions, as well as a one-hour television special, featuring the First Lady of Colombia, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez de Santos. Watch a Plaza Sésamo video.
Powerful educational outreach materials reinforce the learning in schools and community centers. Popular Plaza Sésamo Muppets appear in storybooks, posters, and (a favorite of teachers) a game that gets the whole class moving and kids’ hearts pumping. As key influencers in children’s education, the teachers in the program get training directly from cardiologists, pediatricians, and health educators.
Families take this education to heart, a fact confirmed by some astonishing research. In one study led by the Mount Sinai Medical Center, children’s scores on habits related to healthy nutrition and active lifestyle improved by 27 percent after an eight-month intervention.1
Now in its fifth year, the program’s impact continues to grow. Colombian government organizations are encouraging more physical activity in preschool and making low-fat, nourishing meals part of every school day. The project will be a model of children’s health education for other communities worldwide –– great news for kids developing habits that will follow them for life.
Spearheaded by renowned cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster, this initiative is made possible thanks to the generous support of Mr. Julio Mario and Mrs. Beatrice Santo Domingo.
- In addition to the millions of children who watch Plaza Sésamo throughout Latin America, we’ve reached more than 2 million children in Columbia alone since 2010 through our outreach efforts, PSAs, and joint UNICEF website.2
2 Partner records, Colombian Ministry of Education and UNICEF estimates, 2010-2011.
15% improvement in children’s health knowledge, attitudes, and habits after an 8-month Plaza Sésamo outreach intervention.