Children told how to cope with crisis

Updated: 2011-11-28 08:03

By Huang Ying (China Daily)

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 Children told how to cope with crisis

Pupils eating at lunchtime at a primary school run by the Hope Project in Liucheng county, in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Deng Keyi / for China Daily

BEIJING - Sesame Workshop, a US-based nonprofit educational organization known for its children's show Sesame Street, has begun distributing the second phase of its multimedia education materials designed to teach children how to cope with emergencies.

The entertainment and education group worked with China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF) and international pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) on the project.

During the operation, 75,000 education kits will be distributed to students in primary schools under CYDF's Project Hope in poverty-stricken and remote areas. A total of 15 provinces and autonomous regions will benefit, including Hebei, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan, and Guangxi Zhuang, Ningxia Hui and Inner Mongolia.

The selected provinces and regions are either disaster-prone areas or those which have experienced natural calamities before.

"Because in these areas children have very limited access to television and the Internet, they are not able to acquire knowledge of dealing with different kinds of emergencies," said Shirley Zhu, project director of China at Sesame Workshop.

The education kit "Let's Get Ready!" contains a DVD, a parent magazine, a children's activity book and a notepad, and they work together to engage children and their parents in learning about getting prepared for emergencies through songs and various activities accompanied by Sesame Street muppet characters.

"Using multimedia is an effective way to introduce a topic to young children and to model desired behaviors. Through the use of songs and muppet characters, important themes in the kit are rendered memorable and fun for children, in a way that is positive and engaging, without creating fear or anxiety," said June Lee, assistant vice-president of global research in the department of global education at Sesame Workshop.

This project unites the family in planning for an emergency together and reinforces the point that emergency preparation is a family effort and everyone has a role to play, she added.

Teachers from primary schools in recipient areas said such education materials are crucial to children and the kits involving video and games are easy for children to absorb, practice and remember.

The first phase of the initiative began in April this year and was aimed at assisting children with experience of a natural disaster in recovering from it mentally.

Established in the United States in 1968, Sesame Street is good at making TV shows for children and has long been committed to providing children of all ages with dynamic content to reach their full potential. It entered China in 1983 with the broadcast of Big Bird in China, a popular children's program produced in collaboration with CCTV.

Its latest production was the broadcast of 52 11-minute episodes of Big Bird Looks at the World in Mandarin on CCTV's children's channel during the summer. It is currently being shown by two regional TV stations.

In order to better adapt to the Chinese early education market and serve Chinese children's needs, the US nonprofit organization engages in frequent dialogue with experts in the field in China and seeks help from relevant foundations and government departments.

It created a muppet character specially for China called Lily - a female tiger with Chinese elements. The character also appears in the TV series Big Bird Looks at The World.

"In this distribution campaign, we received advice from CYDF and we consulted the Ministry of Civil Affairs," said Shirley Zhu.

"I hope we can hold a seminar on children's early education in China to share our research results with our Chinese counterparts as well as discussing the issue with Chinese early education experts and professors," she added.

MSD began cooperating with Sesame Workshop as its sole entrepreneurial partner in the 1990s in the United States.

"It is not enough for an enterprise to donate money in support of nonprofit organizations. What's more important is to engage its employees in relevant activities and to infect them with an enthusiasm for charitable work," said Jane Wu, director of Communications at MSD.

"We are looking forward to establishing partnerships with more companies or nongovernmental organizations in China in the future," Zhu added.

China Daily

Children told how to cope with crisis

(China Daily 11/28/2011 page22)