South African Muppet will teach kids to stay healthy

Posted: Thursday, August 08, 2002

In a statement of the painfully obvious a few weeks ago, six members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Public Broadcasting System President Pat Mitchell stating that they didn't think there should be an HIV-positive Muppet character developed for the children's TV program ''Sesame Street.''

We suspect the six signatories saw an opportunity to ''prevent'' a problem where no problem existed, and they weren't about to pass it up.

The fact is, PBS has no plans to introduce such a character on the U.S. show. Nevertheless, the six Congress members charged courageously where there was no need to go because they had heard that the Sesame Street Workshop was creating an HIV-positive Muppet character for ''Takalani Sesame,'' the South Africa counterpart to ''Sesame Street.''

The ''Takalani Sesame'' character will debut Sept. 30 in South Africa. Its purpose will be similar to puppet shows currently produced in that AIDS-ravaged country by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to teach school children about HIV.

Sadly, unlike the United States, South Africa does not enjoy the luxury of shielding children from such sensitive issues. The country's future depends upon the survival of the next generation. It must try to teach them to stay healthy.

-- South Bend (Ind.) Tribune - August 6

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