Meet Julia, the first character with autism on "Sesame Street."
She was introduced Wednesday as part of the Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children campaign. Julia's story will be told online in a digital resource hub complete with videos, music, an interactive storybook, and printables geared toward kids ages 2 to 5.
The resources explain what it's like to have autism from the child's point of view.
Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, president of U.S. Social Impact for Sesame Workshop shared with People magazine why this perspective is so vital.
"When we explain from a child's point of view that there are certain behaviors, such as slapping their hands or making noises, to express excitement or unhappiness, it helps younger children to understand how to interact with their autistic peers. It makes children more comfortable and therefor more inclusive."
With this new character, "Sesame Street" hopes to create empathy, raise awareness, and put an end to bullying.
According to the National Autism Association, kids with autism are particularly vulnerable to bullying due to potential differences in social interactions and motor and communication skills.
But to encourage understanding and empathy, Julia and her fuzzy friends will celebrate what makes kids different and showcase the amazing things they have in common.
And how did they kick off the project? With a song of course!
"The Amazing Song," that is. It's the perfect way to welcome new friends to "Sesame Street," or your not-so-fictional neighborhood. And while it's tailor-made for kids, there are helpful lessons for us grown-ups, too.
♫ We all are still growing, we all need a hand. ♫
♫ We all need a friend who can understand. ♫
♫ We all are important and we all are okay. ♫
♫ We all are amazing, each in our own way. ♫
Young or young at heart, we're all touched by autism in some way.
1 in 68 children fall on the autism spectrum, so this is an issue affecting many families and communities. Resources like this can help us celebrate and encourage these amazing kids and be a supportive voice for inclusion and positive representation.
See the cheerful, heartfelt video for yourself. (Dare you not to smile!)