No matter how old I get, I'll always have a special place in my heart for Sesame Street. The series is such quality programming, with important messages for kids all over the world, and true to form, Sesame Street 's newest Muppet, Zari, is the perfect example of all those wonderful things colliding. Zari is a six-year old girl from Afghanistan, the first Muppet ever from that country, and she debuted on Bagch-e-Simsim, the Afghan version of Sesame Street, on Apr. 7. Like the American version, the Afghanistan show is aimed at preschoolers, so an entire nation of young children will now get to grow up watching Zari advocate for access to education, particularly for girls, and encourage her human counterparts to do the same. In the words of Sesame Workshop's executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy, Sherrie Westin, said in a statement to Reuters, "The exciting part about Zari is that she is modeling for young girls that it is wonderful to go to school and that it's OK to dream about having a career. It's so powerful that the first Afghan Muppet is a girl."
Honestly, it's huge. It may not seem like such a big deal that a purple felt character with orange, red, and blue yarn for hair is pushing this message of female empowerment, but think about all the lessons you absorbed from shows like Sesame Street as a kid. Whether you realize it or not, those moments learning about sharing or how to make friends really do make an impact and mold your mind, so it's amazing that a generation of young minds will be exposed to a curious, unapologetic, empowering character like Zari. And they'll see themselves reflected in her as well, as Zari will wear a wide range of clothing from casual to traditional, as well as donning a veil when the situation calls for it.
In addition to giving a face and a voice to female empowerment, Zari will also be used in segments encouraging the overall health and wellness of the body, even combining her two interests to interview industry professionals like a doctor to find out what would go into becoming one. It's such a powerful way for Sesame Street to educate and influence children's development, and I'm so thrilled to see them taking that duty seriously. As Westin added in the same statement to Reuters, "Part of the power of the broadcast and Zari's potential as a role model is to reach children and parents where they may not have access to other educational content."
Love this, love Zari, love Sesame Street. Really just love it all, and so excited to still care this much about Muppets at age 28. It's a beautiful world.
Image: Sesame Workshop/Baghch-e-Simsim