Puppet show for peace

The organisation behind the long-running television show Sesame Street has launched a new project which aims to break down sectarian barriers between children in the North.

The Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit educational organisation which works to improve the lives of children throughout the world, is to make a new TV series in the Six Counties to promote tolerance among young people.

The series is due to be screened over a period of 18 months, beginning early next year. As part of the project, educational outreach materials will also be distributed to schools to reinforce the show's message.

Details of the new initiative were revealed at the annual gathering of the American Ireland Fund (AIF) in New York. The funds has provided $1 million towards the cost of the Sesame Workshop project and a new integrated education pre-school in the North.

Kieran McLoughlin, vice-president of AIF, said the two projects were further proof of the organisation's commitment to Ireland.

"We are proud to be the prime supporter of these historic initiatives aimed at bringing new hope to a new generation of children in Northern Ireland," he said.

"All children deserve a chance to learn and grow, to understand the world and each other. Shockingly, research has revealed that Northern Ireland children as young as three years old have begun developing sectarian beliefs. The need to counteract this was the impetus for our commitment to these initiatives."

The initiative follows on the success of several other Sesame Street initiatives designed to bring educational values to children in over 25 countries around the world including Israel, Palestine, Kosovo and South Africa.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News