HHS Secretary Sebelius, Sesame Workshop, and the Ad Council Launch National Campaign to Protect Families from H1N1 Virus and Stay Healthy

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–May 22, 2009.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is joining the Ad Council and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, to launch a national public service advertising campaign designed to encourage American families and children to take steps to protect themselves from the 2009 H1N1 flu virus and continue to practice healthy habits. As part of HHS and the Ad Council’s campaign, Sesame Workshop produced a television PSA featuring Sesame Street’s Elmo and Gordon explaining the importance of healthy habits such as washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and sneezing into the bend of your arm.

The campaign was unveiled this morning by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the HHS/Department of Education Childcare Center in Washington, D.C. The PSAs will be distributed nationwide today and will be supported in airtime donated by television stations.

“We are doing everything we can to protect public health and teach children how they can stay healthy and safe,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Elmo, Gordon, Sesame Workshop, and the Ad Council are delivering an important message to our kids.”

The 2009 H1N1 flu virus is a new flu virus of swine origin that was first detected in April 2009. The virus is spreading from person-to-person, sparking a growing outbreak of illness in the U.S. and internationally. To date, over 5,700 cases have been reported in the United States and there are nine deaths associated with the novel H1N1 infection. Experts believe that the 2009 H1N1 flu spreads in the same way that seasonal influenza viruses spread — primarily through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with the virus.

The new PSA campaign focuses on the importance of providing parents, teachers and children with accurate information about how to practice healthy habits, highlighting proper hand-washing and simple everyday actions that lead to staying healthy and keeping germs away. Created by Sesame Workshop, the television PSAs encourage audiences to visit www.cdc.gov to get more information on how to stay healthy. The PSAs are an extension of Sesame’s Healthy Habits for Life initiative, which helps young children and their caregivers establish an early foundation of healthy habits.

The PSAs are part of an initiative to provide practical steps recommended by HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help prevent the spread of the flu virus and other infectious disease, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Keep your distance from others if you are sick.
  • When possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick, and don’t send your children to childcare or school if they are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

“Since the outbreak of the H1N1 flu, many Americans have expressed concern about how they can protect themselves from being infected,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We are proud to continue our longstanding partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services for this critical campaign that will educate parents and children about how to stay healthy. We are also grateful to Sesame Workshop for providing their resources and talent for the PSAs.”

The Ad Council will be distributing the PSAs via satellite to television stations nationwide.

“Whether you are learning to read or count, facing natural disasters, or practicing healthy habits, Sesame Workshop combines our expert research with the power of Muppets to provide children and their families with the tools they need to cope with what is going on in their communities,” said Melvin Ming, chief operating officer, Sesame Workshop. “As part of our Healthy Habits for Life Initiative and in partnership with HHS and Ad Council, we are servicing a PSA and supplemental materials to generate awareness on how kids and families can lead healthier lives.”

The Ad Council has been partnering with HHS to develop PSA campaigns that address critical health issues since the 1950s. Their successful collaborations have included public service messages about the polio epidemic, drug abuse and, more recently, obesity prevention.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The department includes more than 300 programs, covering a wide spectrum of activities, including medical and social science research, preventing outbreak of infectious disease, including immunization services, assuring food and drug safety, welfare, and Medicare and Medicaid. Visit www.hhs.gov.

Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street. As the single largest informal educator of young children, local Sesame Street programs produced in countries as diverse as South Africa, Bangladesh and India are making a difference in over 120 nations. Using proprietary research to create engaging and enriching content, Sesame Workshop produces programs such as Dragon Tales and Pinky Dinky Doo. In addition, multimedia needs-driven initiatives provide families tools for addressing such issues as children’s health, military deployment and emergency preparedness. As a nonprofit, product proceeds and philanthropic donations support Sesame Workshop’s educational research and creative content for children around the world. Learn more at www.sesameworkshop.org.

The Advertising Council

The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.

 

Source: hhs.gov