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Ahlan Simsim: A New Standard for Investment in the Next Generation to Learn, Grow, and Thrive


Elmo, Sesame Workshop
The Rt. Hon. David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee
Clarissa Ward, Chief International Correspondent, CNN
Sherrie Westin, President, Sesame Workshop; Senior Advisor, Concordia

“If you invest early, you can have the greatest educational benefit.” 

– The Rt. Hon. David Miliband 

“Play is so important for children to learn, grow, and overcome challenges.”

– Sherrie Westin

“The key word is ‘investment’ as opposed to a ‘cost.’” 

– Clarissa Ward

“Elmo’s new friends in Jordan are just like Elmo’s friends from Sesame Street; we all like the same things: to learn, to go to school, and to play.” 

– Elmo

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Investing in early childhood development is instrumental, considering it is the phase during which the brain undergoes its most rapid development. Despite this, a mere 2% of humanitarian aid is allocated to early childhood initiatives. Ahlan Simsim, Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) program to support children in the Middle East, aims to bridge this gap by providing educational, psychological, and emotional support to children facing high-stress and crisis-context situations. 
  • Given the crucial stage of brain development in children, high-quality early education, nurturing, and care can profoundly influence those enduring prolonged stress, setting them on a path toward long-term wellbeing and productivity. 
  • Ahlan Simsim serves both refugee children and host nation children, promoting social cohesion and fostering friendships across various groups by implementing best practices and research in childhood development. 
  • Research has demonstrated that by combining the effectiveness of in-person assistance with Ahlan Simsim’s programs, it’s possible to compress a year’s worth of progress in social, academic, and emotional development into just 11 weeks. This underscores the intensive and highly impactful efforts of Sesame Workshop and IRC in their collaborative work.