Since 1969, Sesame Street has been educating children in fun ways that are ever changing. Not only does this iconic show teach all the normal preschool lessons, such as counting and identifying colors and numbers, it also tackles more unique topics that are just as important as the basics. Spanish has always been high on the list of priorities on Sesame Street. More recently, vocabulary has become a main area of focus. In 2008, Sesame Street rolled out Word on the Street, to increase the number of words learned by children. This program was begun due to research stating that a 3-year-old from a professional family hears typically 30 million more words than one from a family on welfare. The desire of the Sesame Street team to combat this has resulted in a 78% increase in known vocabulary by children who are exposed to Word on the Street materials.
The most recent issue confronted by those at Sesame Street is that of cleanliness, which is part of the Cleaner, Healthier, Happier Campaign. USA Today reports that a new Muppet has joined the gang on Sesame Street, and will be appearing in Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria. Her name is Raya, and she is an aqua-green, sandal-wearing 6-year-old girl. Her job is to “engage children with important messages surrounding proper latrine use and sanitation.” Raya’s sandals are not just part of her fashion ensemble, they are meant for a specific purpose – to teach the importance of cleanliness. In an interview with Brian Arbogast, director of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Raya says, “I make sure to wear my sandals everywhere—especially to the latrine. Wearing my sandals helps protect me so I can stay clean and healthy.” Sandals aside, Sesame Street’s newest member knows other ways to keep clean, as well. “I know that it is also really important to wash my hands with soap every time I use the latrine. Clean hands means healthy Raya. Healthy Raya means happy Raya. There’s nothing better than being clean, healthy and happy!”
The Sesame Street cast of people and Muppets alike have spent generations teaching children many of the more important lessons in life. This newest addition is no different, and shows us that Sesame Street continues to endeavor to educate children on the issues that are most prominent in their little lives. These lessons build a foundation upon which children grow and learn, throughout school and even later in life. The lovable characters make learning exciting, and leave a lasting impression. Kudos to the Sesame Street crew for meeting children where they are, and teaching them such valuable lessons.
[Image via Wikia]