Learning how to be an uplifting, progressive, and compassionate member of society is most effective when we start teaching these important qualities from a young age.
Sesame Street seems to be aware of this, as they most recently created the character Julia. The adorable new friend for Elmo and company is a muppet character with autism, a part of the Sesame Street Workshop's new nationwide movement aimed toward raising awareness about difficult subjects.
Yesterday, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children was launched in hopes of reducing the "stigma of autism."
This movement is complete with a free downloadable app with videos, digital story cards, and storybooks for children with autism and their families. They hope to aid in making daily tasks easier for families. The most unique feature of the app is the fact that it is told from the child's point of view, so that users would be able to understand children with autism better.
According to Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied, and with one in 68 children having autism, that's a lot of childhood pain that should be addressed.
The goal is to help children connect with what they have in common, like playing and being friends, rather than focus on what makes children with autism different.
The app hopes to instruct children that just because another kid won't look you in the eye doesn't mean he or she doesn't want to play too. It also strives to inform people who don't know whether they should use the word "autistic," and eradicate any uneasiness by replacing it with understanding.
To help promote awareness, Sesame Street has begun to use #SeeAmazing online to expand the movement.
We are all different, but, as the song says, that's a beautiful thing. If we teach our children to appreciate our differences, but focus on the similarities, we can make it a more loving place for us all.
Sesame Street's hand in this movement will help children continue to be compassionate, and we will continue to #SeeAmazing into the future as well.