As families around the world adjust to their new realities, parents and caregivers are looking for help in creating new routines, staying healthy, and fostering learning, nurturing, and resilient childhood development at home. Building on a 2019 Programming Partnership with Sesame Workshop, Concordia hosted an important discussion with Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop, on one of the vulnerable groups being impacted by the ongoing pandemic: children, their families, and caretakers. This conversation between Dr. Betancourt and Adolph Falcon, Executive Vice President at the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, a longstanding partner of Sesame Workshop, highlighted how Sesame Workshop is continuously working with partners like the National Alliance for Hispanic Health to design and distribute resources to support the wellbeing of children and their families around the world. In an effort to assist parents, Sesame Workshop has continued to provide resources, tips, and activities through its Caring for Each Other and Sesame Street in Communities initiatives to keep children engaged with learning and play throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
- When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Sesame Workshop understood that it had a role to play in helping children and families maintain a connection to foster comfort, curiosity, and emotional support during an unprecedented period of isolation and strained resources. Through the power of The Muppets, Sesame Workshop created model practices around health and prevention to engage children and their caretakers in healthy routines, while also providing ongoing emotional support and a consistent circle of care among young children and vulnerable communities.
- As an example of Sesame Workshop’s priorities in the COVID-19 pandemic response, Dr. Betancourt shared 2 videos, Washy Wash, a video demonstrating 20 seconds of how to effectively wash your hands for children and caretakers, along with Coping With Sickness, a video that demonstrates how children can deal with a sick parent and cope with “Big Feelings” and uncertainty.
- Delivering ongoing emotional support and accurate information in a language that children can understand is essential to Sesame Workshop’s response. Dr. Betancourt shared a 3-stage strategy for emotional response where Sesame Workshop is continuing to build out resources. The first stage is the for now normal stage, which reaches children and families during physical distancing, followed by the before normal stage, where Sesame Workshop will help ease the transition for children and families back into some of the systems and practices that become available as communities open up, and finally, the response stage that addresses the long-term traumatic effects and social toll that the pandemic could cause.
- Both Dr. Betancourt and Adolph Falcon emphasized that a sense of security is fundamental to a healthy childhood, and developing a skill set that is capable of managing trauma is an essential component of childhood security. Sesame Workshop and National Alliance for Hispanic Health originally partnered to support childhood security in the wake of the 2019 El Paso shooting and have evolved their partnership to respond to the demands driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sesame Workshop sees its partnerships as key to raising awareness and developing open and available resources that present a child’s perspective and needs when dealing with traumatic experiences, community issues, or crises like a global pandemic,
- For Sesame Workshop, establishing an ongoing connection and soliciting feedback is essential, both to remain prepared for future emergencies or challenges, as well as to explore new opportunities for collaboration and advice. Listening, working together, and preparing for the present and the future are all critical to a partnership’s success. Echoing Dr. Betancourt, Adolph emphasized the importance of listening to partners as a key ingredient for creating a better product, a better partnership, and ultimately better services.