From Asia to Africa, ‘Sesame Street’ special tackles coronavirus pandemic

(Reuters) – Elmo, Cookie Monster and Muppets from Asia and the Middle East are joining forces for a special episode of “Sesame Street” aimed at helping kids cope with a world turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Puppets Ernie (L) and Bert from Sesame Street are seen after they were donated to the National Museum of American History to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

“Elmo’s World News,” airing over the next few weeks in 13 languages across Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, will share activities, play, and advice on how to manage “big feelings” like frustration and sadness.

“Children are at home spending a lot more time indoors than before and families are really struggling with how to help them keep learning, keep engaged, how to play in new ways,” said executive producer Scott Cameron.

In the 25-minute special, Elmo hosts a news show from his bedroom, with Cookie Monster playing a special correspondent showing his “Things That Make Me Happy” activity box.

Grover plays a weather reporter who learns how to play inside, while Basma and Jad, the stars of the “Ahlan Simsim” Arabic version of “Sesame Street,” show how to manage feelings with dance.

Schools and daycare centers have been closed for months in multiple nations because of the coronavirus, cutting children off from friends and leaving parents and family members in the role of teachers.

Cameron said the universal message of the show was the importance of play.

“Playing helps you manage some of the big feelings that are coming up for children and caregivers, because play is such a powerful way for kids to express things that they might not otherwise be able to express,” he said.

“Elmo’s World News” follows a “Sesame Street” coronavirus special aired in the United States, Australia, Canada and the UK in April that featured guests Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anne Hathaway and Tracee Ellis Ross.

“Elmo’s World News” is a collaboration with the Lego Foundation.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Nathan Frandino, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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