Sesame Street is debuting their newest friend — a red-headed, shy muppet named Julia. And she has autism.
“She is going to be so powerful on two fronts,” Sherrie Westin, executive vice president of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, tells PEOPLE of Julia. “It will help kids with autism be able to identify with a character and it will also play an important role in destigmatizing autism.
“We want to reach all children in terms of giving them greater empathy and to talk about and increase awareness and understanding.”
Julia, who was introduced last year as a digital character in Sesame Workshop’s Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children global initiative for communities and families with children ages 2 to 5, is now making her debut as a physical muppet on HBO and PBS on April 10.
“We just had to bring her to life,” says Westin. “She was created as a positive response from the autism community.”