30 Jan 2006

YOUNGER children in Northern Ireland will be told ‘how to get to Sesame Street’ thanks to an innovative programme the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams helped get underway.

Big Bird and the Cookie Monster may be engraved in many thirty some things minds, and now Sesame Street and the Northern Ireland Pre-School Playgroup Association (NIPPA) are joining forces to tackle problems faced by children in their early years through the innovative TV show.

“When the Commissioner’s office was first being established we were very keen to support Sesame St in developing their novel approach here in Northern Ireland and we are delighted they are now working in partnership with NIPPA to make this idea a reality,” said NICCY Chief Executive, Barney McNeany.

“We know from research that attitudes can be formed by children as young as three into very difficult areas such as sectarianism, and that they can be affected by issues such as discrimination, bullying and attitudes to disability.”

Mr McNeany said Sesame Street productions focussed on positive messages, and had been shown to work very well in areas as diverse as Israel and Palestine, Kosovo and South Africa.

Funding for the Sesame Street project comes from a variety of sources, including $1 million from the American Ireland Fund, and a total of 26 shows from the Sesame Street stable will be produced.

Mr McNeany continued: “Many will remember Big Bird, the Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, Oscar, Elmo and The Count from our own Sesame Street viewing as children – and now I hope that those same production values will mean NIPPA and Sesame Street can bring fun and positive support to Northern Ireland children in their early years.