“Sesame Street” continues to find new and creative ways to teach children life’s most important lessons. Sometimes the subject is as simple as “ABCs” and “123s,” but other times the long-running children’s program will tackle bigger topics including COVID-19, addiction and ethnicity.
This week, a new Muppet character joins the “Sesame Street” family to help kids learn about differently-abled bodies. Her name is Ameera, a little girl who has a spinal cord injury. Ameera makes her on-screen debut on “Ahlan Simsim” (translated to “Welcome Sesame” in Arabic), the local version of the American show in the Middle East and North Africa.
Children will get to know Ameera, who is “a witty, inquisitive 8-year-old girl with a passion for science and basketball,” according to Sesame Workshop’s press release. “Ameera uses her bright purple wheelchair or forearm crutches to get around due to a spinal cord injury. She’s everyone’s favorite comedian, and her great sense of humor serves her well as a natural leader who encourages others with her bright personality.”
In the two years that creators worked on developing Ameera, Sesame Workshop focused on introducing a character who would shine a light on children with disabilities in a way that is not only educational to all viewers but also inclusive for the millions of children who have a disability. Ameera’s passion for science and learning also allows girls around the world to see someone like them breaking stereotypes about certain academic subjects, particularly math and science, according to Sherrie Westin, president of Sesame Workshop.
“Thoughtfully designed to challenge stereotypes and reflect children’s lived experiences, Ameera brings visibility to the more than 12 million displaced persons and 240 million children worldwide estimated to have a disability as well as to the important role of girls in STEM,” Westin said in the press release.
Ameera’s presence on “Ahlan SimSim” is also part of a broader humanitarian program to support children affected by conflicts in regions where the show airs. Sesame Workshop plans to feature Ameera in new animations meant to quickly respond to children in active crisis contexts, including in Ukraine.
The “Watch, Play, Learn” videos are part of the humanitarian initiative promoted by Sesame Workshop in partnership with the International Rescue Committee. This new content, along with Ameera’s introduction, is grounded in playful learning.
“Learning through play is especially important for children affected by crises, as playful experiences can offer a positive outlet for anxiety, reduce stress and promote resilience — enabling children to overcome adversity and build the foundational skills they need to succeed in school and life,” Sesame Workshop said in their press statement.
There is no word yet on when Ameera may make a visit to the U.S. version of “Sesame Street.” But keep an eye out for more videos on YouTube and possible updates on Ameera’s next adventures!