Tag Archives: children

Meet Julia: Sesame Street’s First Autistic Character

Sesame Street is incredibly nostalgic for me – I used to watch it every lunch time with my mother whilst eating shepherds pie after a morning at pre-school. Random. Anyway, Sesame Street is a truly iconic American show that seems as immortal and recognisable as The Simpsons. The difference between this and other kids shows is that Sesame Street was created (in 1969) as an experiment with the intention of finding out whether television could be used to educate young children. We now know how influential both TV shows and adverts can be on children. Since, they’ve written story lines ranging from basic learning skills to race issues and even coping with death.
On April 10th, “Sesame Street” aired the special episode “Meet Julia” on HBO to introduce viewers to their newest character. Julia was created as part of the ‘Sesame Workshop’ (the non-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street), alongside their autism initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children’For years, Sesame Street received requests from parents to feature storylines surrounding autism, so Stacey Gordon (plays ‘Julia’, below) and Christine Ferraro (the writer of the “Meet Julia” episode) who both have close family relationships helped bring this character to life. Stacey was uniquely placed to take on the job as her son has autism: “Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviours through something they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s OK.”

ot-sesamestreeti

A common concern amongst parents of autistic children is how their peers will understand, communicate with them and treat them. As autism has such a broad spectrum, the team wanted to ensure that Julia was represented based on extensive research into common traits of kids with learning difficulties.

Bringing Julia to life as a Sesame Street Muppet is the centrepiece of all of our new materials to support families of children with autism. The response from the autism community to See Amazing in all Children has been extraordinary, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to promote understanding and acceptance of autism, as part of our mission of helping all children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder – Sherrie Westin, EVP of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop

Although the team were cautious regarding the representation of such a broad learning difficulty in just one character, writer Christine wants Julia to exist as herself, rather than be known as “the autistic one”. Aside from this, the main aim is to teach viewers about inclusion, understanding and patience. I don’t know if it’s the childhood personal tie I have with Sesame Street, but watching the intro video above actually made me quite emotional – the way in which Julia is represented is so endearing and gentle, with Big Bird patiently trying to understand all the facts about her learning difficulty. Scenes include Julia meeting new people, the relation between autism and eye contact, common physical reactions like “flapping”, becoming overwhelmed when she hears sirens and the heartwarming scene where they all join in on Julia’s version of ‘tag’.

The most important part of this well-written storyline is how they have steered away from Julia’s differences being the source of confusion or fear, and instead created the narrative to focus on the rest of the muppets enjoying their relationships and having fun. Whilst parts of Julia’s behaviour were clearly explained to Big Bird and the viewers, the main focus was on integrating Julia into the group, like all the other muppets. My heart has melted!
It just goes to show that whilst TV can be a very scary place for easily influenced children, creatives and marketers can use their platform to educate in a way that has never been done before.

 

P.S. take a look at the comments on the YouTube video – lots of users have praised the creation of Julia as something they wish they could have seen on TV as children.
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Hillary Clinton for POTUS: Role Models

This ad wasn’t enough to open peoples’ eyes to the behaviour and hate-speech projected onto citizens of the USA by Trump. Yet in the aftermath of the US election this election campaign for Clinton seems more prevalent than ever. The ad is perturbed and dark, because it’s real – it’s scary, it’s disconcerting, and children are watching. Children are also far more susceptible, intelligent and aware than we realise.

Agency Droga5 created this ad for Clinton’s campaign based on the discovery that many parents were worried about letting their children watch the US election debates. The message is translated through this eery, very real campaign, communicating that parents were concerned about the potentially negative or inappropriate things their kids would hear from now President-elect Donald Trump.

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Meet “ELO”, a special teddy bear from Amaral Carvalho Hospital in Brazil

ELO is a teddy bear that links hospitalised children with the love that is part of their lives.

Got to love a bit of social design! Cute idea.

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‘Halloween Treats Gone Wrong’ Campaign

CREDITS
Client: Crest and Oral-B
Spot: “Halloween Treats Gone Wrong”
Agency: Publicis Kaplan Thaler
Chief Creative Officer, President: Rob Feakins
Executive Creative Directors: David Corr, Tony Gomes
Creative Director, Copywriter: George Logothetis
Creative Director, Art Director: Xavier Rodon
Executive Producer: Noelle Nimrichter
Account Team: Angela Pasqualucci, Cheryl Loo, Carine Johannes, Alex Andrial, Dani Winter
Production Company: Tool of North America
Director: J.J. Adler
Editing: Fluid Editorial
Editor: John Piccolo

 

Very cute and original!
“I threw up” hahaha

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Invisible Parents

“For thousands of children in the European Union, crossing borders can mean they’re on their own. The reason is simple: when moving between one country to another, their parents are no longer recognised as their real parents – just because they’re the same sex.

Will you sign now and tell the leaders of the European Union that same-sex families are families, regardless of the country they’re in?”

 

Gender or sexuality and biology isn’t parenting – unconditional love is. And this should be global!

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Barack Obama’s re-election

I haven’t had time to write about this sooner, but here’s an Obama post!

I find myself far more interested in American politics than British politics…. Probably because Barack Obama has changed the meaning of equality for so many people in the USA. Here, ‘gay marriage’ does not actually exist, just civil partnerships. Some people (including gay people) might not see the difference, but I do. Marriage is marriage, so why does it have to be a ‘partnership’? One of the reasons I was hoping for his re-election was to influence the UK with the amazing job he has done in making gay marriage equal in so many states. It’s unbelievable! If you told someone 50 years ago that a black president was making gay marriage legal in tones of states in the USA, you’d be laughed at.

Not only that, but women’s rights … the right to their own body and their own reproductive control. The right to be treated equally to men in the workplace.

The fear of Romney I had was for those thousands of gay partners who dreamed of one day getting married and having a family, having to question their ability in the future to do so. Dedicating your life to someone, and having and loving a child with someone you adore is a basic human right. I cannot comprehend the fear and worry thousands of gay Americans felt at the possibility of this being taken away from them by Mitt Romney.

Not only that, but the right to have contraception and abortions. Every woman should have the liberation to make her own choices, and the freedom to control her own body.

Ok, Obama may not have solved America’s financial crisis, but those using that against him seem to forget who was in power before. Obama didn’t just create this debt, it was handed down to him. If I’m honest, what he has done for people, and for parity, is outstanding, and just as outstanding as the abolition of slavery. Slavery is wrong, gender prejudice is wrong.

Obama, you are amazing!!!

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Gender Equality and Education

Something I have been thinking about for the past week is the level of education regarding gender equality. I cannot recall ever being fully informed (both biologically and psychologically) about transgenders in school.

The work of Drew Ashlyn (from the amazing programme ‘My Transsexual Summer’) is very inspiring. She educates people about the LGBT community, particularly transgenderism.
I believe it should be mandatory for schools to have a gender and sexuality pastoral topic on the syllabus. I cannot speak for myself about being transgender like Drew can, but in the future I would absolutely love to campaign for this and make my views public.
I think with this level of knowledge, children who feel like they have been born in the wrong body may perhaps feel more ‘normal’ if everybody knows the psychological and physiological aspects of transgenderism. Anorexia, depression, self harm are all becoming less stigmatised due to education, so I think it is essential that gender and sexuality be part of a child’s pastoral education.

I really believe not enough people are knowledgeable about transsexualism, leading to stereotypes and incorrect facts.

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Ads of the Week

SMARTWATER

CREDITS
Advertising Agency: AR New York
Chief Creative Officer: Raul Martinez
Executive Creative Director: David Israel
Executive Producer: Helaina Buzzeo
Director of Client Services: Jason Garcia
Account Director: Kristen Opalach

Production Company: Station Film
Director: Alek Keshishian
Executive Producer: Michael Di Girolamo
Executive Producer, Producer: Caroline Gibney
Unit Production Manager: Leanne Amos
First Assistant Director: Anthony Dimino
Director of Photography: James Whitaker
Art Director: Gary Matteson

Editing Company: Cosmo Street
Editor: Tessa Davis
Executive Producer: Yvette Cobarrubias
Producer: Patty Paz
Assistant Editor: John Bradley

Post Effects Company: Arsenal FX
Visual Effects Supervisor: Lauren Mayer-Beug
Visual Effects Executive Producer: Ashley Hydrick
Visual Effects Producer: Pravina Sippy
Flame Artists: Mark Leiss, Terry Silberman
Computer Graphics Artist: David Hyatt
Design Artist: Nathan Boldman
Roto Artist: Crystal Strait

Sound Company: Beacon Street Studios
Sound Designer, Mixer: Paul Hurtubise
Producer: Caitlin Rocklen

 

Hilarious! Jennifer Aniston is an amazing actress, and she was perfect for this advert. This is much better than previous Smartwater ads, including perfect comedic timing whilst taking rumours about Jennifer and making them literal. It’s always good to see a celebrity be brave enough make fun of themselves.

THE NEXT BIG THING (SAMSUNG GALAXY S III)

I have no idea how Samsung got away with this! I thought there were rules about competitive strategies… Anyway, amazing advert. It actually made me consider other phones other than iPhones (as I have been told endless times are problems with iPhones … don’t get me started on the new iPhone 5!). Great timing with the new iPhone 5 coming out too. I love the clever idea of having the ‘uncool parents’ getting an iPhone,  and the ‘Samsung people’ being nice enough to queue for other people but being told off by ‘iPhone people’. Nice.

MONSTER (FRAGILE CHILDHOOD)

“For a child a monster can be real.
The Fragile Childhood activity has begun in 1986 and has been established as a well-known form of activity in Finland. http://lasinenlapsuus.fi
Fragile Childhood activities are designed to encourage people to participate anonymously in discussion and to share their thoughts about responsible parental drinking on a dedicated platform:http://www.facebook.com/lasinenlapsuus
The campaign activities are also to highlight the fact that is still not widely understood how much harm parental drinking problems causes to children. For example, previous research has shown that every fourth Finnish child has suffered some harm because of its parent’s alcohol usage.
Take part on conversation in Twitter: #fragilechildhood
Monsters film has been planned and produced by Euro RSCG Helsinki & Grillifilms together with Sauna International & Studio Arkadena.”

This advert reminds me of some of my favourite adverts of all time by NSPCC. What an amazing advert and concept – it should be shown in the UK! Perfectly created to make people think about alcohol, and to feel a nurturing sympathy for these child victims. The facial expressions and the reactions of the children are so realistic, it’s quite haunting! The whole idea is to be haunted by the thoughts of the children, and to think about “How do our childen see us when we’ve been drinking?”

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