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Sesame Street introduce new Muppet with a disability

By Ursula Kearney

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street, are introducing a new Muppet as part of its effort to represent the 240 million children with disabilities around the world. Ameera, who has a diverse set of interests, loves science and basketball and knows how to make everyone around her laugh; relies on forearm crutches or a bright purple wheelchair to get around due to a spinal cord injury.

Ameera was designed with the help of an external team of inclusion and disability experts, including occupational therapists, disability technical experts and inclusive early education specialists. They also worked with people who have disabilities to gather their opinions on the Muppet’s design. The team wanted to pay careful attention to how an actual child with a similar injury as Ameera would navigate their own mobility.

While developing the character and learning how to accurately portray Ameera’s mobility, the team asked themselves questions such as – How would a child of the same age, with the same abilities, interact with others? What are some of their mannerisms and movements? What would be the best way for her to play with her friends when she is mobilising on her crutches?

The English voice actor for Ameera, Ashley Glicken, has stated that she can relate to Ameera's story. She is a young woman with disabilities and uses mobility devices herself. This has enabled her to better relate to the character and helps bring an authenticity to the character. Estee Bardanashvili, a senior director and supervising producer, said the following about Ashley; "She can really relate to what Ameera's experiences are, and she can put her own confidence and her own abilities into the voice".

The new character, Ameera, was premiered on Ahlan Simsim (“Welcome Sesame” in Arabic) in the first week in April; which is the local version of Sesame Street in the Middle East and North Africa. She will also appear in Sesame Workshop’s “Watch, Play, Learn” animated videos, which are designed to help kids learn about math, health, safety and social-emotional issues.

Ameera is the latest in a line of more than half a dozen “Sesame Street” Muppets with disabilities over the years. Currently, the show features Ricardo, Rosita’s father who returns from a military deployment in a wheelchair, and Julia, a 4-year-old with autism who was introduced in 2015 as part of the Sesame Street and Autism initiative.

You can find further information on the Muppet, Ameera, on the Sesame Workshop’s website:

Alternatively, if you need further information on how to make facilities or services more accessible and inclusive, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team on (01) 415 12 85 or e-mail [email protected].