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“Sesame Street” Creator Joan Ganz Cooney Honored at PBS National Conference

Children’s television pioneer awarded PBS’ annual ‘Be More’ award for helping millions of children reach their full potential

AUSTIN, TX, Wednesday, May 19, 2010 -- Today, PBS and its member stations honored “Sesame Street” creator Joan Ganz Cooney at the PBS member stations’ Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. More than 1,000 public media professionals from across the United States attended the ceremony, in which Cooney was hailed for her pioneering work using media to educate children. Today, PBS continues this innovative spirit in its commitment to leveraging media and technology — from online game modding and iPad apps to interactive classroom white boards — to educate and open a world of possibilities for all children to reach their fullest potential.

Cooney co-founded the Children’s Television Workshop, now called Sesame Workshop, in 1968. “Sesame Street,” the nonprofit production company’s flagship series, debuted the next year, ushering in a new era in educational children’s television. The series pioneered the use of colorful characters, animation musical numbers and other innovative features to introduce children to basic concepts in literacy and math. “Sesame Street” is the longest-running series in children’s television and has won more than 100 Emmy Awards, more than any other program. It is also a global phenomenon, with international versions airing in more than 140 nations.

“Joan Ganz Cooney revolutionized media to help all children reach their highest potential,” said PBS President Paula A. Kerger. “She was ahead of her time in using the power of television to reach and educate children — especially those who might not otherwise have those opportunities. Thanks to Joan’s unique vision, ‘Sesame Street’ is one of the single greatest educators of young children in the world.”

Kerger presented Cooney with the PBS Be More Award, which recognizes individuals whose contributions to society exemplify the PBS spirit of “Be more” — expanding horizons, opening up possibilities and exploring new ideas. The previous recipients of the PBS Be More Award are Ken Burns, Bill Moyers, Jim Lehrer, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Fred Rogers.

“Sesame Street” began its 40th season on PBS last fall. Sesame Workshop also produces “The Electric Company,” which airs on PBS member stations. In 2007, Ms. Cooney co-founded the Joan Ganz Cooney Center to deliver media that increase the chances for all children to reach their highest potential. The center focuses on the challenges that children face today and how emerging media technologies can help them learn.

About PBS
PBS, with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans — from every walk of life — the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 118 million people through television and nearly 21 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet.

CONTACT:
Jan McNamara, PBS, 703-739-5028; jmcnamara@pbs.org


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