There’s a new Muppet on the Sesame Street block, and she uses a wheelchair.
The producers of favourite long-running children’s television show Sesame Street are introducing Ameera to their Middle East and North Africa show - a little girl who uses a wheelchair in an effort to spotlight children with disabilities around the world.
Bright green Ameera, a Muppet with a spinal cord injury, relies on forearm crutches or a bright purple wheelchair to get around.
According to Disability Scoop Sesame Workshop describes Ameera as “everyone’s favourite comedian” and “a natural leader who encourages others with her bright personality.”
The new Muppet will make her debut next week on Ahlan Simsim, or Welcome Sesame in Arabic, the version of Sesame Street that airs in the Middle East and North Africa.
Ameera will also appear in Sesame Workshop’s Watch, Play, Learn animated videos, which are designed to help kids learn about maths, science, health, safety, child protection and social-emotional issues.
Sesame Workshop said that in addition to highlighting children with disabilities globally, Ameera will appear in videos offering playful learning and support to kids affected by conflict, crisis and displacement.
“Thoughtfully designed to challenge stereotypes and reflect children’s lived experiences, Ameera brings visibility to the more than 12 million displaced persons and 240 million children worldwide estimated to have a disability as well as to the important role of girls in STEM,” said Sherrie Westin, president of Sesame Workshop.
Scott Cameron, head of international production at Sesame Workshop, said Ameera was developed over the course of two years with input from inclusion advisors to ensure that her “identity, movements and equipment were representational.”
Ameera is the latest in a line of more than half a dozen Sesame Street Muppets with disabilities over the years since the show first hit our television screens in 1969.
Currently, the show features Ricardo, Rosita’s father who returns from a military deployment using a wheelchair, and Julia, who has orange hair and a fondness for her toy rabbit - she also has autism.
Julia, who is best pals with Elmo, was introduced in 2015 as part of the Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative.
Sesame Workshop is also releasing a handful of new autism resources in April 2022, a month associated with promoting awareness of the developmental disability.
The nonprofit said it will offer new videos and activities featuring Julia that are focused on the themes of friendship and belonging.