April 2, 2014 (New York, NY) – Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, announced today that it is joining forces with Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, and other like-minded partners, to develop a new community engagement initiative to help reduce the stigma surrounding children with autism. To kick off this initiative, Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby will join Autism Speaks co-founders, Suzanne and Bob Wright, today at the start of World Autism Day and help light the Empire State Building blue. Today marks the fifth consecutive year Autism Speaks has lit global landmarks, buildings, businesses, and homes blue as part of its international autism awareness campaign: Light it Up Blue.
The initiative, “See Amazing in All Children,” will aim to increase understanding, reduce stigma, and demonstrate the commonalities that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) share with all children. The Workshop will also develop tools and resources for families of children with ASD to help them reduce the stress of everyday routines, such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, trying a new food, or playing with other children.
Sesame Workshop will also be working with other organizations such as Exceptional Minds, a non-profit vocational center and animation studio for young adults on the autism spectrum, to help create content. Sesame Workshop is currently seeking additional like-minded partners for ongoing support and funding for the project.
“With brand new estimates from the CDC last week that 1 in 68 children has been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, this has become one of the most widely-discussed topics in childhood development, yet we have found that there’s a lack of understanding among the general public about children with autism,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's Senior Vice President for Community and Family Engagement. “Sesame Workshop has a long history of addressing diversity, acceptance, and inclusion, and we felt we could play a critical role in reducing misconceptions by highlighting the commonalities children with autism share with all children. Together with our partners, we will leverage the power of our engaging Muppets to help to bring this message to children, families, and communities.”
“We’re thrilled to join forces with Sesame Workshop on this exciting initiative,” said Liz Feld, President of Autism Speaks. “This collaboration will allow Autism Speaks to reach kids and caregivers everywhere, through a messenger they know and trust: Sesame Street. We will continue our mission to raise awareness of autism as we develop programming, tools, and resources around this initiative.”
About Sesame Workshop:
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the landmark television program that reaches millions of children every day in more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Delivered through a variety of platforms, Sesame Workshop develops research-based content – including television programs, books, games, mobile apps and community engagement initiatives – that supports early childhood learning, helps prepare children for school, and addresses developmental needs. The Workshop’s programs are tailored to the needs of specific regions and focus on topics that help young children and families develop critical skills for lifelong learning. For more information, visit us at www.sesameworkshop.org.
About Autism Speaks:
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $200 million to research and developing innovative resources and supports for families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.
Visit Sesame Street at:
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortal Weekly Report (MMWR) 2014; Vol. 63(2).