show.ibc.org I #IBC2018 IBC honours Sesame Street pioneer The IBC International Honour for Excellence is the highest award that IBC bestows. It is awarded each year to an individual or organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to the media, entertainment and technology industry. This year’s recipient is Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of Sesame Street, and Sesame Workshop, of which Cooney is executive chairman. Cooney was already an award-winning public affairs television producer in New York when she had a revelation. “Children all over the country were singing the words from beer commercials,” she said, when recalling the show’s origin. “So, they were certainly learning something from television.” Long-time collaborator and muppet master Jim Henson once said of that epiphany: “She had this cockamamie idea of doing an entertainment show for pre-schoolers that had commercials for letters and numbers”. And so, Sesame Street was born. Today, Sesame Street is still available in 140 countries worldwide, and co-produced localised versions are made in more than 20 countries. Four-year-old viewers of Sisimpur, the Bangladeshi version, have literacy rates that are 67% higher than non-viewers. In South Africa, viewers of Takalani Sesame are four times more likely to have an awareness of HIV/ AIDS issues. Alam Simsim gives Egyptian four-year-olds the same maths and literacy levels as other ﬁve-year-olds. The concept has moved on from purely television. In 2007, The Joan Ganz Cooney Centre was formed within Sesame Workshop. It is dedicated to advancing children’s learning in a digital age, bringing the same values of engagement, fun and respect to the online experience as Sesame Street has brought to television. At the IBC Awards ceremony on Sunday night – open to all IBC visitors – the 2018 International Honour for Excellence will be collected by a very special guest on behalf of Joan Ganz Cooney.