Sesame Workshop has announced a major initiative to help de-stigmatize autism, which affects one in 68 children in America, and is introducing a new character to give those children a voice.
The long-running nonprofit educational organization stated in a press release that the latest addition to the Sesame Street cast will be Julia, a preschool girl with autism who "does things a little differently when playing with her friends, the loveable Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Grover." She debuts in a new online storybook called "We're Amazing, 1, 2, 3!"
Julia is part of the initiative titled Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, a collection of digital content created to provide resources to families, teachers and caregivers around the country to educate them about autism, and tools to help families touched by autism with everyday activities.
"The Amazing Song"
Available at autism.sesamestreet.org (or via iPad app Sesame and Autism), some of the guides help to simplify activities and overcome common challenges that autistic children faces such as washing hands, brushing teeth, going to the supermarket, and bedtime routines.
"Sesame Workshop is uniquely positioned to play a meaningful role in increasing peoples' understanding about autism," said Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President, Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop. "This project is an extension of the belief we've always promoted: 'we are all different, but all the same.' I am passionate about this initiative, and am so proud of the partnerships with the autism community that have led to this."
The initiative was funded with support from American Greetings, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Kristen Rohr. Sesame Workshop will work with 14 partner organizations to share these free resources, and distribute them to educators in child care programs and schools, as well as 1.5 million families with young children, to reach communities across the nation.