Sesame Street Adds New Character
Sesame Street is taking a bold, new step with the addition of Julia, a new muppet character. Julie has vibrant red hair, but, more importantly, she is autistic. She will first appear on the show in April. The goal of the show, by adding Julia, is part of a campaign focused on reducing the stigma of autism. Sesame Street says the young muppet, like everyone suffering from the disability, does things a little differently.
Sesame Street Recognizes a Major Disability
Sesame Street explains that Julia’s character did not come together overnight; instead it took years of consulting with experts and organizations in this specialized community. Together they developed her character as well as her campaign.
Jeanette Betancourt, the senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact for Sesame Workshops said, “In the U.S., one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. We wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children. We’re modeling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share.”
Scott Badesch, president and CEO of the Autism Society of America was one of the people who helped the Sesame Workshop think through the concept. He said it was obvious the committee “really wanted to get it right – and they got it right with Julia’s character.” He continued, “When you can have a character that shows what autism is, it will help everyone who watches Sesame Street have a really good appreciation of what autism is, in a positive way.”