Parente says Sesame Workshop, the educational organization behind Sesame Street and dozens of co-productions around the world, strives to be there for children in need. When the organization saw a dramatic rise in HIV/AIDS cases in South Africa, they made the controversial decision to introduce an HIV-positive puppet to the cast.
"The co-productions in other countries allow us to tailor our curriculum to the needs of the community," she says.
In addition to the ABCs and 123s, this Emmy-winning program also teaches children to be accepting of all people. After all, if Gordon and Maria can co-exist with a grouchy, green trash dweller, anything is possible.
"We certainly have modeled diversity, not just ethnically, but also in abilities," Parente says. "We're one of few shows that deals with all abilities in children and adults. Sometimes it's just in an inclusive manner, which is a very powerful way for kids to model that it's okay to have friends and play with children whether they're in a wheelchair, have braces, cochlear implants or Down syndrome."
One more lesson Oscar, Elmo and the colorful Sesame Street gang have taught us is learning doesn't have to be snooze-inducing. Special guest stars, musical numbers and animation make it fun for all.
Parente says stars like Cameron Diaz, Adam Sandler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kobe Bryant, Eva Longoria and Cedric the Entertainer are stopping by Sesame Street to play in the upcoming season. And, in the 40th anniversary episode, first lady Michelle Obama visited to teach Elmo about healthy habits and gardening.
So remember, whether you're in America, Mexico, Israel or Afghanistan, you can always find your way to Sesame Street.
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