Nigeria possesses the third largest number of HIV-positive adults in the world; and over 1.8 million children are orphaned by AIDS. In a groundbreaking effort to provide resources about HIV and AIDS to Nigerian children and caregivers, Sesame Workshop has partnered with The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Presidents Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to bring a unique SESAME STREET project to Nigeria.
USAID and PEPFAR granted $500,000 to Sesame Workshop toward an educational outreach initiative that includes original videos and workbooks for children featuring SESAME STREET characters and caregiver guides; and is expected to reach 30,000 kids in Nigeria, many of whom are orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). The initiative, entitled "The Adventures of Kami and Big Bird," launched Wednesday in Abuja.
This morning, Ayobisi Osuntusa, Educational Consultant on "The Adventures of Kami and Big Bird" introduced the project and outreach materials to 15 representatives from four Nigerian states -- Abuja, Ebonyi, Kano and Lagos. Ayobisi is training these representatives to become experts on the materials and trainers themselves. These new trainers will travel to other parts of the country introducing caregivers in schools and orphanages to the materials so they may be implemented in a variety of contexts ranging from classrooms to childcare centers and homes.
"In Nigeria, there is a reported prevalence of approximately 240,000 pediatric HIV infections," said Ayobisi. "Education about this disease and how to prevent it needs to begin in early childhood, and who better to construct groundwork for the future than the organization that set the gold standard for educational programming? I am honored to facilitate the launch of this initiative."
"In 40 years, Sesame Workshop has never shied away from addressing difficult topics, and our characters have proven successful when approaching complicated subjects in a way that brings comfort and familiarity to young children," said Dr. Charlotte Cole, Sesame Workshop's Vice President of International Education, Research & Outreach. "In Nigeria, where the number of individuals directly affected is high and resources extraordinarily limited, we are hopeful and excited about the opportunity to lay an educational foundation for addressing the reality of HIV/AIDS at an early age, and thank USAID and PEPFAR for making it possible."
Each set of "The Adventures of Kami and Big Bird" outreach materials is comprised of the following items:
-- Five video modules -- each containing a mixture of local live action segments introducing Nigerian children from different cities in their environments telling stories about their lives and animation segments featuring Big Bird from SESAME STREET and Kami, the beloved Muppet from South Africa's TAKALANI SESAME who is HIV positive.
-- A workbook for children containing HIV/AIDS education activities that integrate literacy and math skills.-- A caregiver guide suggesting the most effective ways to use all materials, and providing tips on how to initiate conversations with children about sensitive topics such as de-stigmatizing HIV/AIDS and coping with loss, and encourage children to embrace various techniques to express feelings and emotions.
All materials will be produced in English with pertinent information translated in the indigenous Nigerian languages Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba.
According to UNICEF, there are approximately 13,421,000 preschool-age children in Nigeria, and 10% of these children are enrolled in preschool. While highlighting HIV/AIDS, all above materials focus on a "whole child" curriculum, covering counting, literacy, recognizing healthy foods and other basic skills, as well.
Funding for the creation and distribution of "The Adventures of Kami and Big Bird" outreach materials is made possible by the people of the United States of America through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as Presidents Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The video modules are produced by Nigerian Production Company Storm Vision with Co-Executive Producers Yemisi Ilo and Remi Ogunpitan.