Earlier today Sesame Workshop launched a world-wide video initiative entitled Panwapa. The brand-new video program and support material aim to celebrate cultural diversity and build global understanding. Panwapa (which in the Tshiluba language means "here on this earth") aims to foster a foundation for global citizenship and community in children around the world. The new series features an original group of Muppet characters - including Azibo, Athena and Baabra.
Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop, spoke of the new program stating: "Sesame Workshop has provided children with tools they need to reach their highest potential for over 37 years utilizing all forms of media. Panwapa is a groundbreaking program that will help children to develop an understanding of their culture, an appreciation for differences and similarities of others, and a passion for the people, issues and ideas that help to shape our world."
Panwapa includes a full-length video staring the new Muppet characters of Panwapa Island. At the center of the Panwapa initiative is an interactive website located at Panwapa.com. Visitors can virtually travel the world, watch special Panwapa videos, build their multilingual vocabulary skills, collect Panwapa Cards, and explore cultures around the world.
Also beginning today, the full Panwapa video program is being release through iTunes at no charge; and starting in January 2008 Panwapa will be available for free via PBS KIDS Sprout’s video-on-demand service. Additionally, a DVD of the Panwapa program along with supplement materials will be distributed in special educational kits to schools and other educational resource centers in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Jordan and Mexico. These kits include a Panwapa DVD, a companion magazine, a board game, and a specialized world map. All of Panwapa's content is (currently) being made available in Arabic, English, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish.