Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street and local adaptations around the world, is unveiling a new Muppet character named Ameera as part of its work to support children and families affected by crisis and displacement. Ameera will premiere next week on Ahlan Simsim (“Welcome Sesame” in Arabic), the local version of Sesame Street in the Middle East and North Africa. Ameera will also star in innovative, globally tested videos designed to quickly deliver playful learning to children affected by conflict and crisis.
A witty, inquisitive 8-year-old girl with a passion for science and basketball, Ameera uses her bright purple wheelchair or forearm crutches to get around due to a spinal cord injury. She’s everyone’s favorite comedian, and her great sense of humor serves her well as a natural leader who encourages others with her bright personality. Sometimes, Ameera gets too wrapped up in her own ideas and forgets to notice everyone else’s, but she always remembers that play and learning are most fun when she includes her friends’ ideas too.
“Thoughtfully designed to challenge stereotypes and reflect children’s lived experiences, Ameera brings visibility to the more than 12 million displaced persons and 240 million children worldwide estimated to have a disability as well as to the important role of girls in STEM,” said Sherrie Westin, President of Sesame Workshop. “At a time when more children than ever before are affected by conflict and displacement, Ameera also highlights the urgent need for creative and flexible approaches to delivering playful learning and early education to communities affected by crisis.”
Ameera makes her debut in season 5 of Ahlan Simsim, which will focus on the social-emotional skills of kindness towards oneself and others. Ameera will join beloved Ahlan Simsim friends like Basma, Jad, and a sweet baby goat named Ma’zooza, as well as familiar favorites like Elmo, Gargur (Grover), and Kaki (Cookie Monster), as they navigate setbacks and learn about appreciation of oneself and mutual respect through play. Along the way, the Muppets of Ahlan Simsim will help young viewers grow more confident and resilient in the face of life’s ups and downs. Season 5 will premiere across the Middle East and North Africa at the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
In addition to appearing on the new season of Ahlan Simsim, Ameera will join Sesame friends in new “Watch, Play, Learn” animated videos designed for children ages 3-8 on topics like social-emotional learning; math; science; child protection, health, and safety. The videos, which are part of Sesame Workshop’s Play to Learn program and developed with extensive consultation with advisors and tested with families around the world, are created for broad use to respond to the most pressing needs of children affected by crises.
“Ameera continues Sesame Workshop’s long history of creating diverse characters that children around the world can relate to, and we are so excited to welcome this exuberant 8-year-old girl to our cast of beloved Sesame Muppets,” said Scott Cameron, Head of International Production at Sesame Workshop. “Ameera was in development for over two years and was designed with the guidance of inclusion advisors who helped ensure that her identity, movements, and equipment were representational. An instant favorite with our writers for humor and wit, we know that Ameera will inspire young viewers to be curious and confident.”
The new content featuring Ameera is grounded in playful learning, which is crucial to children’s development across a wide range of outcomes, from physical health to cognitive and social-emotional skills. Learning through play is especially important for children affected by crises, as playful experiences can offer a positive outlet for anxiety, reduce stress, and promote resilience—enabling children to overcome adversity and build the foundational skills they need to succeed in school and life.
Ahlan Simsim and the new “Watch, Play, Learn” videos are part of Sesame Workshop’s broader humanitarian initiatives that deliver early learning and nurturing care to children and caregivers affected by conflict and crisis. Ahlan Simsim is part of a wider humanitarian program of the same name, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and made possible by historic support from the MacArthur Foundation, that reaches families in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria with the vital early learning that children need to thrive. With generous support from the LEGO Foundation, Play to Learn is an initiative in partnership with BRAC and the IRC to bring playful learning opportunities to children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises.
Sesame Workshop’s efforts supporting children impacted by crises combine educational media and direct services, reaching displaced families and host communities in person—in homes, community centers, and children’s spaces—and online to help children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. Supported by research and advocacy and designed with approaches and content that can be adapted for different contexts around the world, these programs are laying the foundation to transform how the world supports children and families affected by crises for generations to come.