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Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session
Sesame Workshop is widely considered the largest informal educator of young children in the world, reaching 156 million children and families in over 150 countries with a mission to help children grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Whether we are addressing HIV/AIDS in South Africa with the help of our HIV+ Muppet Kami, or tackling the lack of opportunities for girls by promoting gender equity and inclusion in places like Afghanistan, India, and beyond, Sesame has a long history of addressing some of the most challenging issues facing children. Considering the staggering number of children that have been displaced by the global refugee crisis, Sesame has recently expanded its focus on creating transformative early childhood education programs in situations of conflict or crisis. Reaching children, parents, and caregivers wherever they are—from classrooms to health clinics to mobile devices—our programs address immediate needs and help build a strong foundation for families’ future well-being.
Our panel specifically focuses on Sesame Workshop’s transformative early childhood development programs in the Syrian response region. There are several aspects of Sesame’s approach to education in emergencies that make it unique. First, by working hand-in-hand with local educators, Ministries of Education, writers, artists, and researchers, we create local versions of Sesame Street tailored to meet the specific needs of children in their language and culture. These productions reflect children’s own realities, featuring local Muppets whom children can relate to. Second, we use strategic partnerships to expand our impact. By leveraging the vast, on-the-ground networks of key implementation partners, we able to reach the children who need our content most. And third, we use our engaging Muppets, who have the power to connect with children and speak to them about the most difficult issues. Children all over the world form special bonds with these characters—making them feel less alone and more receptive to the lessons they’re seeing and hearing.
Presentation 1, “WASH UP! Syrian Response: Promoting Life-Saving Health Lessons through the Muppets,” will provide an overview of Sesame Street and World Vision’s WASH UP! Syrian Response program, which specifically targets children as change agents in promoting lifesaving water, sanitation, and hygiene-related messages in Jordan, Lebanon, and the Kurdish region of Iraq.
Presentation 2, “The ECD Humanitarian Response Pilot: Building a Knowledge Base for ECD Programs in Emergency Settings” will explore Sesame Workshop’s pilot ECD Humanitarian Response program, which was designed to deliver socioemotional messaging to children in Jordan and to provide learnings that would inform the design of the largest intervention in the history of Humanitarian Response. The pilot was supported by Bernard van Leer and Open Societies Foundations.
Presentation 3, “Sesame Workshop and the IRC’s Refugee Initiative,” will share learnings to date from our childhood development (ECD) initiative serving the needs of Syrian children displaced by conflict in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. This joint, five-year project with the International Rescue Committee is funded by the first MacArthur Foundation 100&Change, $100 million grant, and will be the largest ECD intervention in the history of humanitarian response.
WASH UP! Syrian Response: Promoting Life-Saving Health Lessons through the Muppets - Shanna Kohn, Sesame Workshop; Kara Koch, Sesame Workshop
The ECD Humanitarian Response Pilot: Building a Knowledge Base for ECD Programs in Emergency Settings - Kim Foulds, Sesame Workshop
Sesame Workshop and the IRC’s Refugee Initiative - Estee Bardanashvili, Sesame Workshop