For over 45 years, parents in over 150 countries have entrusted Sesame Street to help teach their children not only about numbers and colors, but also about the emotional intelligence they will need to succeed both on the playground and in the real world.
Sesame Workshop is the research and education based non-profit organization responsible for Sesame Street and they are, without a doubt, the authority on how television can be used as a tool for teaching. They so gracefully tackle big subjects like self-regulation, self-confidence, diversity, and even grief, while remaining relatable and relevant to countess cultures for almost half a century!
There have been very few major changes to the show over the years but back in August Sesame Workshop announced it was relocating to HBO. For the next 5 seasons, there will be almost double the amount of episodes per year (from 18 episodes up to 35) and after 9 months, all of the episodes will be aired for free on PBS.
To celebrate their relocation, they threw a big party at the New York Public Library in the beautiful Celeste Barto Auditorium. There were over 500 star-struck little boys and girls gathered for a special story time and performance featuring Elmo, Abby, Rosita, Alan and the latest addition to the cast, Nina!
The kids were welcomed with velvet ropes and a step-and-repeat which set the tone for this sold-out event. Story time was followed by a fun, high energy live performance which had the kids up on their feet singing and dancing. There are very few occasions where you can take 500 small children, put them in a room together, and have both order and fun. Leave it up to Elmo to get the job done!
I spoke with Joanilla, a local mom who was enjoying the festivities as much as her sweet little girl, about why Sesame Street is important for her.
“I think for me Sesame Street is everything my childhood was about. It was the exploration, it was the fun, it was just everything. I avidly remember sitting down with my (five) siblings and we would all watch Sesame Street together. And for Sophia, my daughter, I think that . . . for her to be exposed to all that Sesame Street is, the diversity, the culture, the openness that it is, along with the fun and the creativity, and the push to explore and push the bounds of your imagination is just amazing!”
Her thoughtful answer reflects the significance of Sesame Street for our generation and the new generation we are raising. Sesame Street is an invaluable resource for families and we laughed about how we couldn’t imagine our childhood without it!
The event also featured the Everyday Heroes Club, a new campaign designed to promote acts of kindness.
In a world where we seem to be incredibly connected in some ways and terribly disconnected in others, the Everyday Heroes campaign may be just the right tool to help teach kids about kindness and compassion.
My family recently relocated to Washington, DC and with the move came an array of changes. My son started kindergarten in a new school and his three year old sister has been attending a cooperative program. Just this week we received news that my daughter was called off a waitlist and is now enrolled at the same school as her big brother. We had prepared her the best we could and while incredibly excited, she was also nervous. The kids were playing together and from the other room I heard my son tell his little sister that he would be “just in the room next door” to her. My smile grew wide and I could feel my heart swell. How lucky I was to catch such a kind, tender moment! I searched for the badge I was given at the New York event and used it as an opportunity to talk with my kids about kindness and how being kind makes everyone feel good.
You can head over to the Everyday Heroes website to download official materials including a badge, membership card and certificate so that you, too, can access these great resources.
Speaking of feeling good, HBO honored two people with a $5,000 grant to their charity of choice to acknowledge their acts of kindness. Patricia Kettles is the Manager of the Port Richmond Library in Staten Island and was recognized for staying after hours, as well as walking kids home from the library. Fourteen year-old student Leela Aikens was able to collect enough signatures to send to local elected officials, resulting in increased library hours for the public. Even without a cape, these “Everyday Heroes” were both incredibly inspiring! After the presentation, the kids were treated to Apple and Eve juice, Earth’s Best snacks, coloring and face painting! Does it get any better than that?
And speaking of inspiration! I was lucky enough to meet Carol-Lynn Parente, the 12 time Emmy Award winning Senior Vice President at Sesame Workshop and Executive Producer of Sesame Street. She was as kind and warm as the show she produces and I was able to ask her, first hand, about the big HBO change.
“HBO was a really important partner for us because it was a partner that really understood that our relationship with PBS was really important, and the accessibility of the show was really important, and they were just wonderful and it’s a great relationship that’s going to give us more content so it will overall be more content for everybody.”
Parente’s explanation has me feeling confident that this change is, indeed, a good thing.
Our relocation to Washington, DC came with challenges as well as opportunities to grow and evolve. Our family is stronger than ever and it has been a wonderful adventure! I think the same will hold true for the partnership between Sesame Street and HBO.
So remember, Sesame Street isn’t really going anywhere. It’s just a relocation. And if it’s good enough for Cookie then it’s good enough for me!