‘Sesame Street’ tapped for new flu PSAs

9/2/2009

WASHINGTON The Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Education, and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind “Sesame Street,” have teamed up to launch a new, national public service advertising campaign designed to encourage American children and families to practice healthy habits and to take steps to prevent the spread of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, according to a press release issued Tuesday.

During the spring, the Sesame Workshop produced four different versions of a television PSAs featuring Sesame Street’s Elmo and Gordon explaining the importance of practicing such healthy habits as washing your hands, sneezing into the bend of your arm, and avoiding contact with your eyes, nose and mouth. They have now been reformatted to promote www.flu.gov, the federal government’s one-stop Web site for all the latest information on the new H1N1 virus and the seasonal flu. The PSAs will be distributed nationwide and will be supported in airtime donated by television stations.

“We are thrilled to partner with Elmo, Gordon and Sesame Workshop again to emphasize the steps kids and their parents can take to stay happy and healthy this school year,” stated HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Younger children and their parents are some of the people most at risk from the new H1N1 flu virus and with schools starting back up again and the weather starting to get colder, we need to do everything we can to get these important messages about how to prevent the spread of the flu out there.”

The PSAs featured in this campaign can be viewed on www.flu.gov.

In late May, Sesame Workshop first partnered with HHS on a new PSA campaign focused on the importance of providing parents, teachers and children with accurate information about how to practice healthy habits, highlighting proper hand washing and simple everyday actions that lead to staying healthy and keeping germs away. The PSAs are an extension of Sesame’s Healthy Habits for Life Initiative, which helps young children and their caregivers establish an early foundation of healthy habits.

On a global scale, Sesame Workshop was the first nonprofit to respond to the flu outbreak in Mexico, with the immediate creation of four PSAs featuring the beloved Muppets of Plaza Sesamo and several Mexican celebrities who donated their time to the cause. The flu prevention messaging has reached millions of children and their families both in Mexico and the United States.

The PSAs are part of an initiative to provide practical steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help prevent the spread of the flu virus and other infectious disease.

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