The world looks a lot different than it looked only a little over a year ago. The ways in which children learn, see their families and friends, and even celebrate their birthdays have changed.

All children can get thrown off when things change, but children with autism can have an especially tough time. The routines children once knew in a pre-COVID world have been upended, and adapting to these changes can be anxiety-inducing for both the children and their families. It’s in times like this, when flexibility and coping skills are challenged, that Sesame can make a difference.

To mark…

Noor and Aziz, 6-year-old Muppet twins, will help bring playful learning to Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh through the Play to Learn program.

We created two brand-new characters to be featured in groundbreaking Rohingya-language content for refugee children in Bangladesh as part of our Play to Learn humanitarian program

It is always a thrill to welcome new members of the global Sesame Street family, and I am especially excited to introduce the first-ever Rohingya Muppets — Noor and Aziz, 6-year-old twins who will help bring playful learning to children living in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

These two new Muppets will be featured in groundbreaking Rohingya-language educational media as part of our Play to Learn humanitarian program in collaboration with The LEGO Foundation, BRAC, the International Rescue Committee, and New York University’s Global TIES for Children. …

As the international community marks World Refugee Day on June 20, millions of refugees around the globe — half of whom are children — are facing a dual crisis. Children whose lives have already been upended by conflict and displacement are now exposed to even greater risk as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.

Six months ago, at the first-ever Global Refugee Forum, Sesame Workshop joined in a collective effort to champion the critical importance of early education and nurturing care as a lifeline to help the youngest refugees overcome the impacts of trauma and reach their full potential. …

As I reflect on three whirlwind days at the first-ever Global Refugee Forum in Geneva — where leaders convened to transform the way the world responds to refugee situations — I am extremely proud of Sesame Workshop’s ability to contribute to the collective effort to make early childhood development a top priority in humanitarian response.

Three common themes emerged from my experience at the Forum, leaving me hopeful about the progress we can achieve before the next Global Refugee Forum four years from now, working together with a global coalition of champions.

Ahlan Simsim means “Welcome Sesame” in Arabic — and we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve chosen Ahlan Simsim as the official name of Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) humanitarian program in the Syrian response region. Our program, made possible by a generous $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, will reach children and caregivers wherever they are — from classrooms to health clinics to mobile devices — delivering vital early education and nurturing care to those affected by displacement.

Ahlan Simsim reflects the welcoming spirit embedded throughout our program, both through the direct services offered in partnership…

Inspired. Hopeful. Challenged.

These are just some of the feelings expressed on the first day of our planning workshops in Amman, Jordan which brought together team members from Sesame Workshop, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and local advisors to move our refugee program into the execution phase.

Over the course of the week, we discussed content creation, a language plan for the project, and an approach to inclusion with advisors from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan — specialists in language, gender, people with disabilities, and minority groups. …

For so many children around the world, going back to school means the start of a new year, learning new things, and making new friends. It’s a time of excitement and hope for the future.

But for refugee children affected by the crisis in Syria, there’s often no such thing as “back to school,” and it’s possible they never even started. Many of these children, living in refugee camps or informal settlements, don’t have schools to attend. These children are missing out on the sense of normalcy and opportunity that school provides.

By now, you may have heard that Elmo and his friends are going to help the kids living in Syrian refugee camps. And you may want to know how you can help.

While America engages in a national debate around immigration — regardless of your position — I think we can all agree that we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that children are at the center of the refugee crisis. More than twelve million young children have been ripped from their homes by violent regimes and regime change. …

Sherrie Westin

President, Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store