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Since its premiere in 1969, Sesame Street has been at the forefront of socially conscious children’s television. The show was inclusive by design and unafraid to tackle difficult subjects. It’s since grown into a global empire with local productions in more than 20 countries, and it hasn’t lost its conscience.
Last year, the U.S version of Sesame Street introduced Julia, a character with autism. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the show, has also built an online portal to help kids deal with trauma. And it received a $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to bring both television content and on-the-ground help to refugee children in the Middle East.
What does it take to make a show go global, promote social impact thousands of miles away and create children’s programming that’s socially conscious while still being entertaining?
- Sherrie Westin Executive vice president, global impact and philanthropy, Sesame Workshop; @srwestin
- Jeanette Betancourt Senior vice president, community and family engagement, Sesame Workshop; @DrBetancourtSST
- Ann Thomas President, The Children's Place; childrensplacekc.org
- Leslie Kimmelman Freelance editor at Sesame Street; children's book author; lesliekimmelman.net