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New Muppet ‘Raya’ is Unveiled as Sesame Workshop is Selected as an Exhibitor for the “Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India”

(March 19, 2014) New Delhi, India and New York, NY – Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, today unveils the world’s newest Muppet friend, Raya, who will engage children with important messages surrounding proper latrine use and sanitation throughout Bangladesh, India and Nigeria as part of its Cleaner, Healthier, Happier campaign. Raya, a neat 6-year-old, aqua-green girl Muppet, loves to learn and remembers every fact she reads or hears—whether they are useful or not! Aimed at children ages 3 to 7 and their caregivers, Cleaner, Healthier,Happier funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a multimedia, research driven intervention that features Raya and the world renowned 3 ½-year old furry red monster Elmo, as they highlight positive behaviors associated with latrine use, sanitation and hygiene.

Brand new to the Sesame family, Raya is a mine of information with some of it being relatively arbitrary (like giraffes only have seven bones in their neck), and some being more essential (like washing one’s hands after using the latrine is important for staying healthy). Always neat and clean, Raya pays close attention to her hygiene, but can be forgetful in other areas. While she may at times misplace her toys and books, she always remembers to wear her sandals to the latrine and knows how to avoid spreading germs.

Cleaner, Healthier, Happiercomponents include the following and will begin full distribution this year:

  • Three Public Service Announcements, featuring Raya and Elmo, focusing on sanitation and hygiene, which will be distributed in each country’s official language;
  • A 12-15 minute DVD consisting of locally produced studio and live-action segments that reinforce the messaging in the PSA;
  • Print materials such as books, games, posters, and brochures that are tailored to fit the needs and distribution strategy in each county.

Cleaner, Healthier, Happieremerges against a backdrop of great need: 2.5 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, with children (and girls in particular) suffering the most from the lack of access to clean water and sanitation. Deaths from water-related diseases total more than HIV / AIDs, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. 

Having original co-productions in Bangladesh, India and Nigeria, and an extensive history of addressing and meeting the needs of children locally, Sesame Workshop is primed to harness the appeal of the beloved Muppets to deliver this important content in meaningful ways.

“We are so pleased to welcome Raya into the Sesame Muppet family—a group of furry and feathered friends who have been engaging and educating children around the world for decades,” says H. Melvin Ming, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop. “Sesame Workshop has a proud history of bringing health content to children and families in Bangladesh, India and Nigeria, and we look forward to working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to deliver these important messages in new ways to young children and their families.”

“We need new approaches across the spectrum to bring better sanitation and improved health to more people, from new ways to promote behavior change to innovations in technology,” said Brian Arbogast, Director of the Water, Sanitation & Hygieneteam at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Sesame Workshop is using imaginative approaches to improve sanitation and hygiene by reaching young children. This important work will help overcome taboos associated with the issue to improve the well-being of children, the dignity and safety of families, and the economic development of communities.”

Raya was unveiled for the first time as part of the “Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India”, a forum aimed to stimulate discussion and spur partnerships to bring affordable sanitation solutions to people who need it most. The fair is also an opportunity to recognize India’s leadership and commitment to improving child health and fostering innovative solutions to persistent development challenges. Co-hosted by the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnologyand the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the fair is also supported by the Indian Ministry of Urban Development.

Over the last decade, Sesame Workshop has worked to develop local Sesame Street co-productions in Bangladesh, India and Nigeria. In Bangladesh, Sisimpurreaches nearly 7 million children, while in India, Galli Galli Sim Simengages millions of children with television and radiophone broadcasts as well as through unique community outreach initiatives. In 2011, Sesame Squarepremiered in Nigeria to the delight of children and adults alike and launched it’s 3rd season this past May.

Sesame Workshopis the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the landmark television program that reaches millions of children every day in more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s missionis to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Delivered through a variety of platforms, Sesame Workshop develops research-based content – including television programs, books, games, mobile apps and community engagement initiatives – that supports early childhood learning, helps prepare children for school, and addresses developmental needs. The Workshop’s programs are tailored to the needs of specific regions and focus on topics that help young children and families develop critical skills for lifelong learning. For more information, visit us at www.sesameworkshop.org.

Philip Toscano
Sesame Workshop
00‐1‐212‐875‐6687
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Shobha Kapoor
Sesame Workshop India
+ 91 9811734703
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Brian Arbogast, Director, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Stephen Sobhani, Vice President, International, Sesame Workshop, with Elmo from Sesame Street and Raya during the Reinvent The Toilet Fair: India in New Delhi on March 19, 2014. Photograph Courtesy: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Raya and Elmo. TM and © 2014 Sesame Workshop.  All rights reserved

Raya. TM and © 2014 Sesame Workshop.  All rights reserved