Sesame Street introduced the program’s first Autistic character on Wednesday night, according to the decade’s old popular TV show.
Julia’s entrance to the franchise was accompanied with the announcement of “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing In All Children,” an online awareness initiative focused on removing negative associations towards autism as well as bullying in schools.
“Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied,” senior vice president of U.S. social impact, Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, tells PEOPLE. “And with one in 68 children having autism, that’s a lot of bullying. Our goal is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences. Children with autism share in the joy of playing and loving and being friends and being part of a group.”
The initiative comes with an app that features games, stories, children’s activities plus videos that are valuable resources when caring for an autistic child. The new online program is part of a growing effort titled “Sesame Workshop,” aimed at helping children become stronger and smarter.