Thursday, March 7, 2013

PBS Kids Characters Are Timeless

By Adam Lipowicz, WNED corporate communications intern

PBS_KidsAs a young child growing up, my family had your basic 20 or so channels. Being a little kid, I was not very interested in watching news programming or Seinfeld (go figure, right?) but that station that had Big Bird, Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine and Arthur was definitely up my alley. My mother loves to flip through photo albums back when I was a kid, and one specifically comes to mind. My cousin was turning five and for his birthday a Barney mascot came. My cousin, normally used to seeing the giant reptile on a screen, began to cry and ran away from the smiling dinosaur. Me on the other hand? I ran up to him and started running under his legs and making dinosaur noises. My mother managed to snap a picture of me with a huge grin across my face as I ran circles around one of my favorite characters.

This little snapshot of my earlier life is a great way to explain the profound impact that PBS Kids had on my childhood. I was always a bundle of energy, as many children are. I felt this energy develop out of a yearning to learn and explore all that was new and different. While many parents (especially mine) and teachers were sure to be the exhausted "answerers" for endless strings of questions, this energy for learning is what helps children grow into smart, thoughtful and moral adults down the line. So what could be done to ease the burden on parents and teachers while simultaneously allowing children to continue their learning experience? That's where Big Bird and Arthur come in.

The first thing that drew me to Sesame Street was Big Bird. My clip_image003grandmother had given me a stuffed animal replica of the character over the holidays. She then told me, to my immense excitement, that the real Big Bird was taller than her and could even talk. I had to see this giant bird for myself. Over the next couple of years, Sesame Street became a staple in my house. I really enjoyed all of the different characters and the different problems and predicaments that unfolded each episode. On top of that, I thought the show was very funny. Oscar the Grouch and the Cookie Monster always made me laugh. Yet, even now when I look back on the show, my favorite character remains Big Bird. Big Bird was always curious and asking questions, trying to fix problems and cheer everyone up.

As I got a little older, another show with a similar concept piqued my clip_image004interest -- Arthur. Arthur instantly became my favorite show for a few reasons. Just like Arthur, I had a younger sister who got on my nerves. I also had a best friend similar to Buster (although my friend wasn't a rabbit) who I would always have fun with. Some of the stories related exactly to me. I remember being scared about losing my first tooth, but after watching Buster's funny experience I lost all fear of it. When I caught the chicken pox, I remembered when Arthur had gotten them and gotten to stay home from school. I was ecstatic, albeit very itchy. One of the best things that came out of watching Arthur was an episode I still remember where Arthur's sister D.W. loses the blanket she loved to carry around. My sister had always done the same thing, but I had never realized why she was so attached to the thing. I would take it and tease her, but after watching that episode I stopped, seeing that my sister would outgrow the blanket one day, just as D.W. had. I didn't want to take away something that made her feel safe.

It is a testimate to their timelessness that shows like Sesame Street and Arthur are still watched by children today. The messages and lessons learned have allowed curious kids such as myself to enjoy learning and to apply newfound knowledge to our own lives. To this day, I still follow my endless curiosity and desire to learn. PBS Kids definitely contributed to this continuous search for understanding, and will continue to do so for future generations.


A '90's Kid

* Check out the Kid's Grid to see when your favorite PBS Kids programs are on OR watch your favorite programs online on the PBS Kids Go! Player!

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