Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sesame Street to Cultivate Generation of Globally-Responsible Children

Sesame Workshop and Merrill Lynch Partner to Create Multi-lingual Worldwide Interactive Initiative Targeting Children Ages 4-7
Elmo, Big Bird and Oscar are world-renowned, but it’s their new counterparts, “Azibo,” “Athena,” and “Baabra” who are the focus of a new worldwide initiative. Children today live in an increasingly interconnected world full of opportunities and challenges that require them to develop new skills and perspectives. To meet this need, Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, and the Merrill Lynch Foundation have created Panwapa, a Worldwide Kids initiative launching today. NYC Mayor Bloomberg officially proclaimed October 10 as “Panwapa Day."
Panwapa, which means “here on this earth” in the Tshiluba language, aims to foster the foundation for global citizenship and community participation in young children, ages 4 to 7. Featuring an entirely new group of Muppet characters, Panwapa consists of an interactive website,, a DVD, and print materials that are available in five languages to children around the world—Arabic, English, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish.
Beginning today, Panwapa will be available at no charge on iTunes ( and starting January 2008 Panwapa will be available on free video-on-demand (VOD), via PBS KIDS Sprout, the first and only 24-hour preschool network for kids ages 2-5 and their parents and caregivers. Additionally, Panwapa games and information will be available at Both media platforms support Sesame Workshop’s and Merrill Lynch’s outreach efforts in reaching as many children as possible.
The Web site, file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/pschmier/Local%20Settings/pschmier/Local%20Settings/Temp/XPgrpwise/panwapa/, is the center of the initiative. The experience begins on “Panwapa Island,” a floating island that travels the oceans of the world, where children and their caregivers will enter the virtual Panwapa community and meet newly created Muppet characters such as “Athena the Owl” and “Azibo the Monster.” Children will be able to safely travel around the world and visit with Panwapa kids from other countries, watch interactive movies, learn words in other languages, and collect Panwapa Cards by going on international treasure hunts.
In addition, 200,000 Panwapa educational kits will be distributed to caregivers in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Jordan and Mexico to encourage long-term exploration of the issues of global citizenship. The kit includes a DVD, a caregiver magazine with an activity section for children, a board game that reinforces the lessons, and a map of the world to support and complement the Panwapa experience. Local launches in the participating countries will follow the United States launch.
A team of international cultural experts, early childhood researchers, educators and media specialists from nine countries and organizations such as Oxfam, UNICEF, and the World Bank first developed the idea for Panwapa in 2005. Multi-national teams from Merrill Lynch and Sesame Workshop worked with the advisors to create content for the program, focusing on messages of global citizenship for young children.
The international advisory board, led by Dr. Charlotte Frances Cole, Vice President for Education and Research at Sesame Workshop,, developed five broad educational goals for the project:
Awareness of the Wider World: An understanding of the linkages between local neighborhoods and communities and national and global issues.
Appreciating Similarities and Differences: An understanding of and respect for similarities and differences among the people of the world and the interconnectedness of the world’s systems.
Taking Responsibility for One’s Behaviors: An awareness of one’s actions and one’s impact on others, the willingness and desire to take responsibility for one’s actions, and an effort to seek ways to make the world a better place.
Community Participation and Willingness to Take Action: A desire to participate in and contribute to one’s community locally and globally, as well as a willingness to take action around persistent issues and work through them to effect meaningful civic improvement.
Understanding of and Responsiveness to Economic Disparity: An understanding that all people share certain basic needs and disparities in resources affect individuals’ abilities to fulfill these needs -- and a desire to address these disparities.
“21st century children live in the global village from the moment they are born. The sooner they learn to think of this as a wonderful, fun adventure, the better global citizens they will grow into,” stated David Woollcombe, Founder and President, Peace Child International and Panwapa Advisor.
“I am delighted that Sesame Workshop has taken upon itself the task of introducing its young audiences to their global neighborhood: their experience and creativity equips them better than any other organization to ensure that young people all over the world come to view the global neighborhood as a cornucopia of opportunities.”

About Sesame Workshop: Sesame Workshop is the non-profit educational organization that changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street. As the single largest informal educator of young children, local Sesame Street programs produced in countries as diverse as South Africa, Bangladesh and India are making a difference in over 120 nations. Using proprietary research to create engaging and enriching content, Sesame Workshop produces programs such as Dragon Tales and Pinky Dinky Doo. In addition, multimedia needs-driven initiatives provide families tools for addressing such issues as children’s health, military deployment and emergency preparedness. As a nonprofit, product proceeds and philanthropic donations support Sesame Workshop’s educational research and creative content for children around the world. Learn more at

No comments: