Sesame Workshop is spinning a community-centric website from its two-year-old one-off Panwapa – a DVD funded by Merrill Lynch that aims to teach kids the world over about their roles as global citizens. The same-titled internet porthole will launch this fall.
The new site is being hosted by the six Muppets that were created specifically for the DVD program. Big green monster Azibo, Athena the Owl, Bill the Bug and Koko the Penguin – who live on the traveling island of Panwapa and explore different cultures – are slated to serve as online guides and will speak in five different languages.
‘We want to plant the seed of social responsibility in kids,’ says Brett Pierce Panwapa executive producer, of the initiative’s four to seven target demo.
The site’s users will be encouraged to set up their own ‘Me Page’ that will include a personalized avatar, a home-country setting, and a list of interest topics to choose from, including favorite food, animal and musical instrument. Interactive games, such as treasure hunts where participants will be asked to search out citizens who like peanut butter sandwiches, for example, will also be part of the site. The end goal is to get kids thinking about the world as a diverse place, full of different languages, cultures and economic circumstances.
Pierce is shopping the idea around KidScreen Summit, but he isn’t looking to sign broadcast deals or licensees. Instead, he’s on the hunt for NGOs to help distribute some 200,000 free DVDs and assist in promoting the web venture.