Meet the Muppets
Mention the Muppets, and characters like Kermit the Frog, Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, and Miss Piggy immediately come to mind. Of course, how can anyone not know the adorable – and hilarious! – troupe of singing puppets, that have been enthralling audiences all the way from their humble beginnings back in 1955?
Indeed, the Muppets have been around for a whopping 65 years, which is probably older than most of you reading this article. And to keep a show that’s been around for that long fresh and exciting would require an expansion of the Muppet family!
Introducing the new Rohingya Muppet twins!
Indeed, two brand new Muppets have been added to the family this year. These are none other than Noor and Aziz, a pair of six-year old twins that hail from the displaced Rohingya Muslim community, which live in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh.
The new Muppets come from Sesame Workshop, a 400-individual strong non-profit behind Sesame Street that provides almost 200 million children with education, resources and, naturally, plenty of happiness! The two Rohingya Muppets were introduced in line with Sesame Street’s ‘Play to Learn’ humanitarian initiative, which provides support to families and children embroiled in the ongoing Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises.
These two new twin Muppets will help to introduce “learning for play”, and place emphasis on early education. This will be done by keeping the refugee crisis and the current COVID-19 pandemic in mind, alongside one of Sesame Street’s most popular characters, Elmo, in a series of videos! These videos will revolve around topics such as math, health and safety, science, as well as social-emotional learning.
Who else have we been introduced to over the years?
Did you know that this isn’t the first time Sesame Street has introduced new Muppets in the name of inclusivity and diversity? Here are some other Muppets that we’ve had the pleasure of meeting throughout the years. Drumroll, please!
Julia the Muppet has bright green hair, red hair, and loves to play tag or draw. She sounds like every other girl, except that she has autism. However, this doesn’t mean that she’s any different from the rest of us – she just chooses to do things a little differently, that’s all! Or as the show puts it, she just does things in a “Julia sort of way”. Introduced as part of Sesame Workshop’s ‘Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children”, Julia had a wide-reaching impact on autistic individuals and their peers.
Kami the Muppet is HIV-positive, and serves as a “Global Champion for Children”. Kami helped to launch UNICEF’s ‘Africa’s Orphaned Generations’ report, which sheds light on how HIV/AIDS impacts children in Africa. Such issues are often hard to comprehend or digest by younger audiences; Kami hence helps to put such messages forth in an age-appropriate, and easy-to-breakdown manner!
Lily the Muppet is homeless, and has a family who struggles with hunger – helping to open up conversations about a very real issue that many in the world are facing today. Poverty and food insecurity are two issues that are delved into, discussed in an educational manner by Lily, Elmo, Big Bird, and other popular Muppets.
Karli the Muppet offers insight on the touchy subject of addiction, where Karli is in foster care. Karli’s mother has a “grown-up problem”, which is later revealed to be substance addiction. Karli showed an interesting perspective, where addiction affects children in ways that aren’t always evident to the public eye.
Aptly put by Rosemarie Truglio, the senior vice president of curriculum and content for Sesame Street, “… kids need to know how to build resiliency skills and autonomy… [and] Sesame Street is focused on providing kids with a toolbox that helps them manage their emotions, keeps them curious and filled with wonder, and makes them want to keep trying and learning from mistakes, and to iterate through trial and error.”.
How amazing is that? Television isn’t all that bad after all, especially when it helps children understand and learn about real issues. The best part about Sesame Street is that it appeals to both children and adults. Research also shows that children learn better when there’s an adult to reinforce the learning points and resulting life lessons. It’s a win-win situation!