Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization associated with the longstanding children’s program Sesame Street, released new inclusive content and resources in support of Autism Acceptance Month, an annual observance celebrated in April. The fresh creative is part of the company’s previously-established initiative called Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children. The recently-released material stars Julia, a four-year-old girl with autism spectrum disorder, along with appearances by other beloved muppet characters like Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Rosita and Rudy.
Promoting Autism Acceptance
Sesame Street fans met Julia back in 2015, when this character with neurodiversity was first highlighted in the online launch of the Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative. Then, in 2017, Julia began appearing in the television series on a regular basis.
Fans may be surprised to learn that Julia’s character is performed by puppeteer Stacey Gordon, who draws inspiration from her personal experience with autism. Formerly a rehabilitation specialist, Gordon is the proud parent of a child with autism.
New Autism Acceptance Content
In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Sesame Workshop expanded its library of content for autistic children, their families and the public at-large with the intent to promote disability awareness and acceptance.
Sesame Street fans can access two new short videos that feature Julia and her diverse friend circle. The first, titled Princess Paint A Lot, centers on Julia collaborating with Abby and Rosita to create a story about a princess that loves to paint. In the second video, titled Julia’s Needed, Elmo and Rudy rely on Julia’s help and her artistic abilities to paint a colorful rainbow together.
Also newly-released, “Julia and the Super-Sunny Celebration,” is a storybook about teamwork and belonging. This inclusive-themed tale is available digitally in English, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin. Lastly, three new printable pages are now available to inspire creativity with playful inspiration from storybooks like “Family Forever” and “Super-Sunny Celebration.”
Why Representation Matters
“We continue our commitment to autistic children and families by celebrating Autism Acceptance Month with new resources,” said Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of U.S. Social Impact, Sesame Workshop. “We work to create a world where all children are appreciated for who they are. Through Julia and her Sesame friends, we demonstrate belonging to be more than simply being accepted. It is also being part of a community where each person is safe and valued.”
According to the company’s website, this Sesame Workshop initiative is also expanding through its themed entertainment partnerships. Throughout April’s observance month, for example, both Sesame Place theme parks, Busch Gardens and SeaWorld Orlando are distributing educational storybooks as well as hosting meet-and-greets with Julia and her pals. It’s worth noting that Sesame Place Philadelphia, which was the first theme park in the world to be deemed a Certified Autism Center, recently completed Blue Bridge training for staff members on how to use strategies that promote positive communication and sensitive responses when autistic children need assistance in communicating and/or have sensory sensitivities.