Posts Tagged ‘ sesame workshop ’

Sesame Street Brings Fun to the Produce Aisle

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Michelle Obama, Elmo and Rosita

We’ve all been there, walking through the grocery store while our kids ask us for colorful sodas, chips with cartoon characters on the bag, or cookies advertised on their favorite TV shows. Couldn’t they just once harangue us for a pear, or heaven forbid, some broccoli?

Now parents are getting some back-up – furry, funny back-up to be exact.

Last Wednesday at the White House, with Elmo and Rosita at her side, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) have joined the Partnership for a Healthier America in an effort to make fruits and vegetables more appealing to kids. To help in that effort, Sesame Workshop has agreed to license its characters to the PMA for free for two years.

“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” said Mrs. Obama. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about.”

Through her Let’s Move campaign, the First Lady has been a longtime advocate for making nutritious foods more appealing, affordable, and accessible.

The fact that Sesame Workshop is licensing Grover, Elmo, Rosita and friends for free is important because unlike a lot of processed food manufacturers, apple, broccoli, and spinach producers don’t have scads of marketing dollars to appeal to our kids in fun commercials or by placing their products in family movies. But the PMA and Mrs. Obama are hoping that when children see a sticker of their favorite Sesame Street character on an apple or next to salad greens they will get more excited about eating a variety of healthy fruits and veggies.

There is research to back this up. Mrs. Obama cited a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. When researchers gave kids a choice between a cookie and an apple, unsurprisingly the vast majority chose the cookie. But when researchers placed an Elmo sticker on the apple, nearly twice the number of children opted for the fruit.

After the announcement Mrs. Obama, Elmo, and Rosita headed out to the White House vegetable garden where they welcomed students from four area schools to help with the fall harvest. The students dug up giant sweet potatoes, cut pumpkins from their vines, and pulled up dirt-covered carrots. Under the guidance of White House chefs the kids assembled turkey, hummus, and salad wraps. While Elmo and Rosita didn’t share the snack, they extolled their love of fresh produce, already doing their part to encourage kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.

White House vegetable garden

Once you have your produce in the kitchen, get cooking with these easy recipes for family-friendly vegetables and delicious fruit dishes.

What do you think? Will Sesame Street characters on packaging encourage your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables? 

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The Children You Never Hear About

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

There’s a large group of kids in this country who aren’t discussed very often. They’re the 2.7 million children whose parents are incarcerated. That works out to 1 in 28 children–or roughly one child per classroom. Did you have any idea so many kids are experiencing the fear and confusion and embarrassment and sadness that come with having a parent in jail or prison? I didn’t.

When our friends at Sesame Street learned about them, they took action. “We started to realize how many children are impacted and no one is talking about it,” says Jeanette Betancourt, Ed.D., vice president of Outreach and Educational Practices, Sesame Workshop. “No one is representing the needs of children and caregivers and the parents themselves.” So this became the focus of Sesame’s newest installment in its resiliency initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration. Launching today, it’s an entire set of resources in English and Spanish including a DVD and video series, storybook, activity pages, tip sheets for parents and caregivers, as well as an app (available on IOS and Android platforms).

The goal of the initiative is twofold. One is to help caregivers–parents, grandparents, extended family members, foster parents–realize they’re not alone and that it’s important to talk to children about their situation. The tip sheet mentioned above provides caregivers with the best language to use with young kids and how to help them manage their emotions. The other aim is to help the incarcerated parent connect with his or her child. In the video, which includes the stories of real children, we meet a young boy who, with his father and sister, draws pictures for his imprisoned mom (that’s them in the photo above). She then colors them and mails them back, and this simple ritual has become very meaningful.

Watching the videos, you can’t help but wonder how to help these children. But it’s less about help and more about support, explains Dr. Betancourt. “This is a very isolated community–many families don’t necessarily want to talk about it. But if they do open up, the best thing you can do is simply support that family. It’s not even doing something ‘special’–it’s just being friends, just as you would with any other family.”

As always, Sesame will work hard to make sure their materials get into the right hands, giving them directly to prisons, family courts, and national and local organizations that help affected children. What’s so amazing about all of Sesame’s toolkits–and there are more than 20, on topics including divorce, healthy eating, and preparing for an emergency–is that the contents are completely free. They’re not on the actual “Sesame Street” TV show, but everything’s available online and can be downloaded here. If you know one of the millions of children who have an incarcerated parent, please encourage her caregiver or teacher to take a look.

Image by Gil Vaknin, courtesy of Sesame Workshop, 2013

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Report: The New Digital Media Habits of Young Children

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

How do young kids consume digital media in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites? 

A study conducted by the Sesame Workshop and other scholars, foundations, and market researchers resulted in an enlightening new report by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center titled, “Always Connected: The New Digital Media Habits of Young Children.”  The report distilled data from seven other studies between 2006-2010 that focused on preschool and elementary school kids (ages 0-11) .  The seven studies tracked how children absorbed digital, mobile, and online media in the form of television, smart phones, and online games. 

An overview of the report’s findings reveal:

  • Children now have more access to digital media, so they spend more time during the day consuming it.
  • Television is still the number one way children consume media.
  • Children expand their media consumption beyond television around age 8.
  • Mobile media continues to be a rising trend in the way children consume media, such as handheld video games, portable music players, and cell phones.
  • Due to family economic situations, some children still don’t have access to the latest technology.

During the 1990s, children around 2 years old watched over 3 hours of television and children between 8-18 were exposed to media for over 7.5 hours a day.  Now, over ten years later, children under 1 watch 49 minutes of television while children 2-3 years old spend 1 hour and 51 minutes and children between 8-18 are now exposed to media for over 10 hours a day.  In addition to the cable television,  music players, VCRs, home computers, portable handheld video games, internet, and cell phones from available during the 1990s, other ways children now consume media are through DVDs, DVRs, MP3 players, electronic interactive toys, smart phones, and tablet computers. 

According to the study, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 should not watch television and older children should only watch a maximum of 2 hours a day.  New guidelines about the best practices for how your kids consume technology will also be released this year by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

To read the full report, visit the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

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