The Muppets will be put into the service of supporting refugees thanks to a project by the Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The organizations will bring the famous puppets' educational programme to Syrian refugee children in Middle Eastern countries.The project's organizers, Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), won a 100-million-dollar MacArthur Foundation grant in the "100&Change" competition, which finances possible solutions to current critical issues worldwide.
With the funding, Sesame Workshop and IRC will design a format designed to address the 'toxic stress' experienced by children in the Syrian response region: Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. "It will bring hope and opportunity to a generation of children", the organizers said.
"Sesame Street" for refugee children
"We are compelled to respond to the urgent Syrian refugee crisis by supporting what will be the largest early childhood intervention program ever created in a humanitarian setting," said MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch. "The longer-term goal is to change the system of humanitarian aid to focus more on helping to ensure the future of young children through education".
The educational project consists of developing three main components that "will help caregivers restore nurturing relationships and give their children the tools they need to overcome the trauma of conflict and displacement".
Among these tools are the creation of a local version of the "Sesame Street" show, with special educational content broadcast through TV, cell phone, digital platforms and direct services that "will help provide an estimated 9.4 million young children the language, reading, math, and socio-emotional skills they need to succeed in school and later in life".
In addition, the programme will provide "home visitation and caregiving support reinforced with digital content" and the creation of "child development centers".
Education to "improve the lives" of children
Sesame Workshop has been developing local editions of its educational TV programme for several years in places such as Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan and South Africa. "The Syrian refugee crisis is the humanitarian issue of our time and we are deeply grateful for this incredible opportunity," said Sesame Workshop President and CEO Jeffrey D. Dunn. "This may be our most important initiative ever and we are humbled by the trust and confidence that has been placed in us. These children are, arguably, the world's most vulnerable and by improving their lives we create a more stable and secure world for us all".