'Sesame Street' Is Coming To Refugee Children In 2018 Because Everyone Needs Muppets

Ad failed to load

Tons of parents have relied on Sesame Street to educate and entertain their children for decades, whether it's on a Saturday morning at home or to keep them happy in the cart during a Target run. So what about the millions of refugee families and children with no access to an iPad or adorable Muppets to teach them how to count, wash their hands, and talk about their feelings? Luckily, that's changing this year, thanks to new funding that will bring Sesame Street to refugee children. It might not seem like it, but education and development is just as important for refugee children — millions of them unaccompanied — as shelter, food, and warm clothes.

Thanks to a $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, the Sesame Workshop, the educational organization behind all things Sesame Street, will partner with the International Rescue Committee in an attempt to reach the 9.4 million children refugees from Syria and local kids in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon with a new, regionally focused version of the beloved children's show, according to the New York Times.

There's already a pilot program in Jordan, funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation and Open Society Foundations. The program will reportedly be the largest "childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response," Sherrie Westin, the executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy for the Sesame Street Workshop, told NPR.

Ad failed to load

Westin told the New York Times, "If we’re not giving them the tools to overcome toxic stress, that trauma in those early years, the research shows the repercussions are lifelong."

Sesame Street International Social Impact on YouTube

According to a press release from the Sesame Workshop, it will also load up community sites, such as "formal and informal schools" with books, video clips on pre-loaded projectors, and training guides for grown ups to encourage educational based play.

Ad failed to load

Representatives from the organization will make home visits to meet with a caregiver and show them how to use the materials. "It's called nurturing care. It may sound intuitive, but when parents have been through this kind of situation they are very stressed themselves," Westin explained. She told NPR:

We give them techniques and tools and strategies to help their children overcome the toxic stress — games, content, storybooks, apps, all sorts of things — but also an understanding of the importance of that nurturing care.

It's not like refugee parents don't already know how to parent, but when a life is disrupted by war and violence, it's hard to hold onto educational routines or even bring story books with you. One mother told the IRC in a YouTube video after attending a workshop with her kid, "I used to do this in Syria, but I was not able to do it anymore with my kids, thank you for helping me." So it's as much about helping parents reengage with their children as it is about education.

Ad failed to load
International Rescue Committee on YouTube

One of the best features about this grant is that the organization won't just be exporting Big Bird, Elmo, and the Cookie Monster to the Middle East. Instead, the local versions will teach the refugee children reading, math, and social skills in Arabic and Iraqi Kurdish, and the Muppets will represent their situation.

Already, Sesame Street does local versions of the show in India, Afghanistan, and South Africa. So this one will just be tailored to the refugee experience. Westin told NPR in the same interview:

Ad failed to load
I can certainly imagine there will be a character who had to leave their home or who lives in a tent or becomes best friends with their new neighbor. For instance, in Afghanistan, the lead Muppet is a little girl named Zari. Girls' education is a real issue in Afghanistan. She wears her hijab with her uniform.
Sesame Street International Social Impact on YouTube

Although the characters are different, the mission is the same. "The basic model is what Sesame Street has done for almost 50 years but making sure it's more reflective of their reality is what makes it so special," Westin added on NPR.

Ad failed to load

She elaborated further in the New York Times , saying that the Muppets will model "inclusion and respect, and gender equity, and they will provide engaging educational messages, always from a child’s perspective.”

David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC told the New York Times that only about 2 percent of the billions of humanitarian aide goes to education and child development. With 12 million children under the age of 8 years old, according to the Sesame Street Workshop website, that means an entire generation of kids is growing up displaced, living with toxic stress, and falling behind developmentally.

Ad failed to load

The partnership, powered by the MacArthur Foundation, hopes to not only remedy that, but also set a precedent for children's humanitarian aide, especially as more governments turn their backs on the influx of refugees coming into their countries.

The refugee crisis in the Middle East will have long lasting effects on society and people everywhere. At the very least, Sesame Street and the IRC will ensure that kids aren't left behind developmentally, and Muppets are just the way to do it.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills