Sesame Workshop Launches Emotional Well-Being Initiative


Sesame Workshop has launched a multiyear initiative dedicated to supporting the emotional well-being of young children and their families through various resources and platforms.

To kick off the initiative, the 45-minute special Elmo’s Mindfulness Spectacular debuted on YouTube, with Elmo and Abby learning how to deal with big feelings from people such as Jenny Slate, Juanpa Zurita, Lauren Riihimaki (LaurDIY) and more.

Also as part of the initiative, Sesame Workshop partnered with the Ad Council’s Sound It Out campaign to distribute a new PSA with the original song “Me & My Grown-Up.” In the video, Elmo and his dad, Wes and his dad, Big Bird with Granny Bird and Abby and her mom sing about the important role grown-ups play in supporting the emotional well-being of the children in their lives.

New bilingual resources highlighting the benefits of nurturing relationships will be released throughout May at Sesame Workshop’s resource hub for parents, caregivers and providers, Resources include the videos I Notice, I Feel, I Can, in which Elmo and his dad practice three steps to manage big feelings when a DIY project goes wrong, and The Feelings Garden, in which Elmo, his dad, Abby and Abby’s mom learn that it’s possible to experience several feelings at once. Also to come are a digital storybook, printable activity sheets, articles and webinars for providers.

A special episode of The Happiness Lab podcast will premiere this spring with host Dr. Laurie Santos; Steve Youngwood, Sesame Workshop’s CEO; and Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop’s executive VP and chief production and creative development officer. They will share strategies that parents and caregivers can use to help themselves and their children feel happier, with an appearance from Elmo. A three-episode series this fall will revisit the main happiness strategies.

Also, Sesame Workshop’s podcast with Headspace, Goodnight, World!, will return this summer. Developed with a team of early childhood and meditation experts, the podcast helps children practice transitioning from their active days to nap time or bedtime.

The company has also entered a new publishing partnership with Mayo Clinic Press Kids to create content focused on emotional well-being. Launching in fall 2024, the books will celebrate the whole-body approach to health, provide tips on what to do during anxious times, normalize having the wiggles and ore.

The initiative extends worldwide as well, with South Africa’s Takalani Sesame premiering The Big Feelings Special, a prime-time episode focused on big feelings for the whole family, on May 20.

Leadership support for Sesame Workshop’s emotional well-being initiative has been provided by the Joan Ganz Cooney Fund for Vulnerable Children and UnitedHealthcare. Generous support has also been provided by Just Play, Kenneth Cole and Kohl’s.

“We at Sesame hold a vision of a world in which all children can flourish and feel the joyfulness of life and do so with appreciation for their own mental health and well-being,” said Sherrie Westin, president of Sesame Workshop. “Through the power of our beloved characters and proven resources, we’re raising awareness about the importance of nurturing children’s emotional well-being and lessening the stigma associated with seeking support for children’s mental health.”

“Children who are healthy in both mind and body tend to be happier, show greater motivation to learn and have a more positive attitude about themselves and the world,” added Jeanette Betancourt, senior VP for U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop. “Together with the caring adults in children’s lives, we’re helping children develop a foundation for emotional well-being for years to come.”