Since November 10, 1969, Sesame Street, backed by a team of experts and researchers, has been entertaining and educating children across the globe. Not only does the long-running show teach kids how to spell and count, it also tackles the issue of friendship and acceptance.
This week, the show made history by introducing Julia, a 4-year-old vibrant red-haired muppet with autism. The addition of Julia as a character on the show is part of Sesame Street Workshop's initiative to reduce the stigma surrounding autism, create awareness and make every kid feel comfortable and represented.
“Bringing Julia to life as a Sesame Street Muppet is the centerpiece of all of our new materials to support families of children with autism,” said Sherrie Westin, EVP of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop in a press release.
Besides her upcoming TV debut, Julia will also be a part of a digital live-action YouTube segments alongside Elmo and Abby Cadabby. She'll be featured in the "We're Amazing,1,2,3!" books, the free Sesame Street and Autism app, digital story cards and more. All of which are aimed at helping children better understand certain behaviours that their peers with autism might exhibit.
This initiative is also useful for parents with autistic children. “Families with autistic children tend to gravitate toward digital content, which is why we created Julia digitally,” executive vice president of global impacts and philanthropy, Sherrie Westin, tells PEOPLE. “We want parents and children to understand that autism isn’t an uncomfortable topic.
Julia is slated to make her television debut on April 10 and will appear in 2 episodes this season.