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I talked in the first part of this series about watching “The Wild Thornberries” as a kid and seeing the character of Bethany, who used a wheelchair. Advocates are pleased with the addition and the positive conversation that surrounds the new Muppet. Kingsley appeared in several Muppet & Kid Moments. “It was very important that Dave be an equal partner,” Stein said. Stein calls it “casual representation” and it’s something the team behind “Madagascar: A Little Wild” have been using for their deaf character of Dave, whose sister, Pickles, is his interpreter. They are taught social distancing and also on how to wear a mask. The Count and Tarah Schaeffer on “Sesame Street”. In children’s programming the goal isn’t to make every disabled narrative turn into “event programming.” In the “Arthur” episode “The Princess Problem,” wheelchair user Lydia Fox and Arthur’s little sister D.W. are talking about a group of superhero princesses. “We never wanted to point to it [Dave’s] disability,” Stein said. They’ve never solely been focused on introducing disability in children’s lives early — more often than not, they are creating fully-fleshed out characters to help children who might be disabled themselves. Bove’s character would introduce children to sign language but, more importantly, her character would become a series regular on “the Street,” eventually developing a romantic relationship with fellow “Sesame Street” regular Bob (Bob McGrath). “In an animated world there’s no reason not to [include disabled characters],” said Johanna Stein, executive producer of the animated kids’ show “Madagascar: A Little Wild.” Because an animated show creates everything from scratch, there’s no reason not to fill it with more disabled characters than you’d find anywhere else. The “Tarah platforms,” as they’re called, are the width of a wheelchair and can be stacked so that the height can be adjusted for anyone, whether they’re in a wheelchair or not, to be on the same level as the puppets. But even in the world of animation and shows aimed at kids, inclusion can be improved upon. Share Tweet Email Tweet Email “It’s just a fact of who Dave is.” The goal, then, becomes to help children model appropriate behavior when they do interact with someone who is disabled, while simultaneously creating representation for disabled children. While favorites like Big Bird have been on the show since the very first episode in 1969, others, like Elmo, weren’t introduced until years later. The show wanted to avoid tokenizing Dave, or making him the stock disabled character. The goal, according to Greenwald, is to use these stories to “open a kid’s eyes to the fact that not everybody is represented in these kinds of groups.” Hopefully, those dealing with the same issues can identify. Never did I assume it was because I was disabled. “Sesame Street” led the way and numerous other series have followed suit, especially in the world of animation. She serves to help children be more accepting of people with autism and promote disability awareness in children. “And they’re noticing differences because they’re trying to figure out the world around them.” Adults, she explained, are the ones generally left uncomfortable, leading them to punish children for their curiosity about differences, which then leads  to internalized behavior. Four years ago, Sesame Street introduced Julia, its first new Muppet in 10 years. Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! In the case of “Arthur” and “Madagascar: A Little Wild,” Stein and Greenwald admit there aren’t disabled writers working on their respective series nor are there animators with disabilities, and it’s something they want to change. The Muppets are a group of puppet characters created by Jim Henson, many for the purpose of appearing on the children's television program Sesame Street.Henson's involvement in Sesame Street began when he and Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the creators of the show, met in the summer of 1968, at one of the show's five three-day curriculum planning seminars in Boston. Tom (1970–1972) Larry Block: Worked at Hooper's Store. The first regularly appearing character on Sesame Street who used a wheelchair; served as a positive role model for children with disabilities. It’s often said that children should be shielded from the harsh realities of the world and acknowledging disability becomes part of that conversation. Animation and children’s programming long have been at the forefront of disability representation. Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Many assumed Reeve’s wheelchair would be too scary for children. "Sesame Street" is the latest to join a relatively short list of TV shows that have included a character with a disability. When it comes to animation the rules are limitless — and that extends to creating a landscape populated with disability. Tinkler walked away from many roles, including voice character of color, because of the need to be more diverse in voicework. And, Linda Bove, who is deaf, appeared on the show from 1971 to 2003. When Ben Lehmann, executive producer for “Sesame Street,” first arrived on the series, he took note of the large wooden platforms everyone was using. Julia (Autism), Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children. This is part of an ongoing series that looks at the history of disability issues in television. You can find Part One in the series here and Part Two here. In the case of “Arthur,” the Corporation for Public Broadcasting provided funding to native Alaskan writers to work on “Molly of Denali,” an animated kids show produced by the same production company as “Arthur.” Greenwald says that search galvanized them to do more and they hope they can receive more funding to bring on disabled writers. But, it is an encouraging step that will make children or adults with autism feel less alone. There’s a need for voice actors with disabilities to voice disabled characters. In 1988 “Sesame Street” would introduce Katie, a Muppet character who uses a wheelchair, but it wasn’t until 1994 that an actual child using a wheelchair would become a member of “the Street.” Schaeffer’s inclusion was spearheaded by longtime “Sesame Street” writer Emily Kingsley, whose son Jason — who had Down Syndrome — would write the iconic “Sesame Street” song “Count Me In” in 2000. Parents and experts say that this is great initiative. 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