northern ireland | sesame tree
After decades of division, finding common ground…in a tree.
Sesame Tree, the locally produced version of Sesame Street, provides 3- to-6-year olds with a solid foundation of open-mindedness, empathy, and appreciation of diversity.
As Northern Ireland emerges from a decades-long civil conflict, it is children who offer the best hope for finding more common ground. Sesame Tree is showing the way, thanks in large part to Muppet role models like Hilda the Irish Hare and Potto, a furry, purple monster, who live together in the tree. Episodes follow these very different friends as they help each other and grow up side by side, with live-action forays into the country’s diverse communities. Read more about the show.
Sesame Tree is bringing engaging education to one million children in its home country and across the UK1, projecting a powerful image of a new Northern Ireland. Studies conclude Hilda and Potto are indeed making an impression. Kids who watch show a marked change in awareness and attitudes — becoming more socially inclusive and more willing to participate in cultural events; their own and others’.2 Reinforcing lessons from the broadcast, Sesame Tree outreach materials are benefitting 100,000 children in Northern Irish classrooms.3
Major support for Sesame Tree is provided by The American Ireland Fund, International Fund for Ireland, BBC, Northern Ireland Fund for Reconciliation, and Northern Ireland Screen.
2 Larkin, E., Connolly, P. & Kehoe, S. (2009, August). A longitudinal study of the effects of watching Sesame Tree on young children's attitudes and awareness. Centre for Effective Education: Queens University Belfast.
3 Project records, 2011.