When you think ofSesame Street, you might envision a place where everyone’s singing and dancing without a care in the world, and nothing ever goes wrong.
This is a utopian land that’s far from the realities of many kids in real life, and over the years, the long-running children’s series has set out to rewrite its stories so younger viewers would find a character or experience they can connect with.
The newest muppet on the block is Ameera, an eight-year-old green puppet who has a spinal cord injury and now gets around with a wheelchair or crutches.
In spite of physical restrictions, Ameera continues to play basketball, one of her favorite sports. Being passionate about science, she’s also possibly one of the smartest kids in the neighborhood.
Ameera is witty and inquisitive, according to Sesame Workshop, Sesame Street’s educational nonprofit. “She’s everyone’s favorite comedian, and her great sense of humor serves her well as a natural leader who encourages others with her bright personality,” it adds. “Sometimes, Ameera gets too wrapped up in her own ideas and forgets to notice everyone else’s, but she always remembers that play and learning are most fun when she includes her friends’ ideas too.”
Sesame Workshop endeavors to provide early childhood education to kids affected by global crises. As such, Ameera will first appear on Ahlan Simsim (or Welcome Sesame), the Middle Eastern and North African edition of the show.
On a broader scale, Ameera will serve as a character that 240 million children with disabilities worldwide can look up to, in addition to encouraging young girls to get into STEM careers. And although she is not a refugee, she will shed light on the everyday experiences of displaced children, including Rohingya Sesame Street muppets Noor and Aziz.
Ameera’s character came to life with the help of inclusivity and disability advisors from the Middle East and the US, as reported by Mashable. Among them are occupational therapists, inclusive early educational experts, disability technical specialists, and people with disabilities.
DJ Akademiks talked about his experience in college, and went on to say how he saw immigrants work harder as students in America. From there, he and Vlad talked about their beginnings, and also discussed how some people say college is a scam. Watch above.
Mater Dei High School football coaches and players referred to it as “Hell Week,” a string of twice-a-day workouts as the Monarchs prepared for football season shortly before the start of the 1987 school year.
Because of the workout schedule, and in an effort to build team chemistry, players and other students who worked with the team, managers, trainers, stat crew members, slept overnight at the Mater Dei gymnasium.
It was on one of the Hell Week nights that Patrick Callahan, a Mater Dei assistant football coach, allegedly led a 17-year-old stat girl, who was a student at the school, to the Monarchs’ nearby football field and raped her, according to a civil suit filed against Mater Dei and the Diocese of Orange in Orange County Superior Court Thursday.
Callahan repeatedly sexually assaulted the girl over a period of years at different places on the Mater Dei campus, at social functions, and at local restaurants, often in the presence of other Mater Dei coaches, according to a court filing. The suit also alleges Callahan repeatedly served the girl alcohol in the presence of other Mater Dei coaches.
The suit does not state whether the other coaches were aware that Callahan was sexually abusing the girl. The suit also does not name the other coaches who were allegedly present when the girl was served alcohol.
“The significance is that another victim of abuse at Mater Dei has come forward to uncover and expose the culture of abuse and cover-up that is rampant through the athletics of Mater Dei and its community,” said Michael Reck, an attorney for the woman.
Over a period of years, starting in 1985 when the girl was 16, Callahan “sexually assaulted (the) Plaintiff countless times over the years that (the) Plaintiff was a student at (Mater Dei),” according to the lawsuit. The Orange County Register is not naming the woman because of the nature of the allegations.
Callahan when asked about the lawsuit on Thursday said, “I don’t have any comment on that.”
He denied having sex with any minor age girls while coaching at Mater Dei. Callahan, who later worked as an assistant coach at Dodge City Community College in Kansas, said he was unaware of the Orange County diocese making payments to the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Thursday.
Diocese spokesperson Tracey Kincaid said “we have not yet been formally served with the complaint and as a matter of general practice we do not comment on pending litigation.”
The lawsuit was filed against the backdrop of a Mater Dei-commissioned investigation by a Sacramento law firm into the culture of the school’s football and athletic programs.
The investigation commissioned by then-Mater Dei president Father Walter Jenkins on Nov. 30 was in response to an Orange County Register report detailing an alleged hazing incident involving the Monarchs football team. A current Mater Dei football player punched a teammate, 50 pounds lighter than him, three times in the face during an alleged hazing ritual called “Bodies” on Feb. 4, 2021, while some Monarchs players present shouted racial epithets at the smaller player, according to two videos of the altercation obtained by the Register.
The suit filed Thursday alleges negligent supervision, negligent retention and negligent supervision of the plaintiff, then a minor.
Callahan, who also worked at Mater Dei as an assistant track and field coach, later coached football and track at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, and served as an assistant football coach at Cerritos College.
Callahan was sentenced to two years in jail in 2006 for falsifying government documents in order to secure more than $150,000 in federal grants for athletes who were not eligible for the financial aid.
Callahan admitted fraudulently obtaining federal financial aid grant money for 13 Cerritos football players between July 1999 and March 2004, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.
The suit alleging sexual assault was filed under a California law that allows sexual abuse victims to finally confront in court their abusers and the organizations that protected predators.
Assembly Bill 218, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019 and went into effect Jan. 1, 2020, created a three-year window to file past claims that had expired under the statute of limitations. The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), also extends the statute of limitations for reporting childhood sexual abuse from the time a victim is age 26 to 40. The period for delayed reasonable discovery is also increased from three to five years. The law requires that plaintiffs meet a mental health practitioner and receive a certificate of merit to file under AB218. The woman has received a certificate of merit, Reck said.
Alleged survivors must file civil suits within eight years of becoming an adult or three years from the date an adult survivor “discovers” or should have discovered they were sexually abused, under current California law.
Under the 2019 law, defendants cannot be publicly identified in complaints until the judge formally accepts the case. The initial filings can list the addresses of defendants, however. The addresses of the diocese and Mater Dei are both listed for the two defendants in Thursday’s filing. Reck also confirmed that Mater Dei and the diocese are named in filings with the court.
The girl first met Callahan at a track camp on the Mater Dei campus in 1984, according to the suit. In the following months Callahan groomed her for sexual abuse, the suit alleges. Callahan allegedly began sexually assaulting her in 1985 when she was 16, Reck said.
Callahan “sexually molested, assaulted and abused Plaintiff on the premises owned, operated, and controlled by Defendants (Diocese of Orange) and (Mater Dei), including, without limitation, on the school campus of (Mater Dei),” according to a court filing.
As an assistant to Callahan and Mater Dei, the girl, the suit alleges “was forced to accompany Callahan to various athletic events of or sponsored by (Mater Dei). These athletic events were both on and off the high school campus of (Mater Dei) during the day and night, and included dinners at restaurants and other venues in California where alcohol was served to Plaintiff by (Callahan) and where other coaches and agents of (Mater Dei) were present. Often during these dinners, the PERPETRATOR sexually assaulted Plaintiff while they were sitting at the table with the other coaches and agents of (Mater Dei) present.”
“In his capacity as a track coach and/or an assistant football coach of (Mater Dei), PERPETRATOR often gave alcohol to Plaintiff, then a minor, to consume,” the suit said.
“Why did Mater Dei, why did the adults present during these times not raise a red flag?” Reck said.
The diocese has been aware of the allegations since 2011 when officials agreed to pay for the woman’s counseling, Reck said.
“Why hasn’t the diocese said anything?” Reck said.
Longtime Mater Dei head football coach Bruce Rollinson was not named in the suit. He was an assistant coach on the staff at the time.
The University of Southern California is apologizing to former Japanese American students whose educations were interfered with by the school during World War II.
USC President Carol Folt will issue a formal apology to the former students and award them honorary degrees posthumously, according to the Los Angeles Times. The school is also asking the public for assistance in locating the families of around 120 students who went to USC from 1941-42.
“This is a stained part of our history,” USC Associate Senior Vice President for Alumni Relations Patrick Auerbach told the Times. “While we can’t change what happened in the past … the university can certainly still do right by their families and let them know that we are posthumously awarding them honorary degrees so that they can occupy that place in the Trojan family, which they deserve.”
An executive order issued by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943 forced the removal of people of Japanese descent from the West Coast, placing tens of thousands of people in detention camps.
USC refused to release the transcripts of Japanese American students so they could attend another university, the Los Angeles Times reported. When some students attempted to return to USC after the war, the school would not recognize their previously completed courses and told them they would have to start over, their surviving family members noted.
USC alumni have been pushing for the school to apologize for their actions toward Japanese American students during World War II for years, but the issue gained new momentum after George Floyd’s murder last year, which prompted many institutions to examine their roles in acts of racism.
USC law students last year publicized their research project centering on the issue, titled “Forgotten Trojans,” and an Academic Senate committee also pushed for the school to formally recognize the issue, the Times reported.
Folt will officially make the apology and award the degrees next spring at an Asian Pacific Alumni Association gala and will also recognize the former students at the school’s commencement in May, according to the Times.
Sylvia Mendez knows a thing or two about breaking barriers. But, as she noted Wednesday, this may have been her first time cutting a ceremonial ribbon.
Not far from where she and her brothers were denied enrollment at a school because of their Mexican heritage, setting in motion a landmark desegregation case with national reverberations, the civil rights icon visited Westminster High School to help dedicate a brand new learning pavilion named in her honor.
“I am very aware how much work went into putting this together,” Mendez said. “Muchísimas gracias. I am so grateful, and so thank you. Thank you very much.”
On an outside wall, a towering mural created by artist Chuck Adame — with the help of fellow artists Israel “Ezra” Cervantes and Jose Joaquin — captures both the vision of the pavilion and the significance of Mendez v. Westminster.
The dignified profile of Sylvia Mendez occupies the top left corner of the mural, along with the year her case was resolved. Also depicted are her parents, Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, the Presidential Medal of Freedom she was awarded in 2011, a blindfolded Lady Justice, books with the term “equality” written on their spines in multiple languages, and the Japanese kanji character for “harmony.” The latter symbolizes the family’s bond with members of the Munemitsu family who leased their farmland to the Mendezes after being ordered to an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.
This story begins in 1943, also in Westminster. That’s where Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez tried to enroll Sylvia and her brothers, Geronimo and Gonzalo, at 17th Street School, known as “the white school.”
But district officials directed the family to Hoover Elementary, a campus for Mexican American children. Sylvia Mendez, just 8 years old at the time, would later describe Hoover as “a terrible little shack” with dirt for a playground.
Her parents hired a local attorney, who later consolidated the case with four other Orange County families who were willing to take legal action. Mendez, et al v. Westminster claimed that 5,000 children throughout the county were unjustly harmed by unconstitutional segregation policies.
The families won a groundbreaking victory in the U.S. District Court in 1946 that was upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals the following year. On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Brown v. Board of Education decision, which asserted that all laws promoting school segregation were unconstitutional.
Gonzalo Mendez died in 1964, and Felicitas Mendez died in 1998. In accordance with her mother’s wishes, Sylvia Mendez has spent much of her post-retirement life speaking publicly about the case and talking to students about the importance of education.
She’s now 85, and there is little doubt that her efforts to raise awareness have been successful, expanding the case’s profile across the country.
The Santa Ana Unified School District opened Gonzalo Felicitas Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School in 2000. More recently, the Westminster School District rededicating its central office with a marquee that reads, “Westminster School District, In Honor of La Familia Mendez.” And last year, Felicitas Mendez became the subject of a Google Doodle.
“In Mendez v. Westminster there was no violence, I have to tell you,” she said. “People came together to right a wrong. It took my parents and the other families a lot of courage. This court case is all about the struggle for equal education and for basic human rights.”
The unmarked graves of more than 751 people have been discovered at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, after hundreds of remains were found in other provinces in the past month.
“We are seeing the results of the genocide that Canada committed — genocide on our treaty land,” Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said in a virtual press conference Thursday.
Cameron said the burial site on Cowessess First Nation, 90 minutes east of Regina, is evidence of “a crime against humanity, an assault on First Nation people.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement shortly after the announcement saying he is “terribly saddened” by the news. “My heart breaks for the Cowessess First Nation, and for all Indigenous communities across Canada,” he said.
The news comes after Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced in May that the remains of 215 children were found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Researchers say hundreds of unmarked graves are also believed to be located in Manitoba related to the residential school system in that province.
There has been considerable political pressure in recent years on federal party leaders to accept the past treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada as genocide, including the nationwide residential school system removed children from their families to enroll them in a system that strove to “take the Indian out of the child.”
A 2019 inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women concluded what has happened was genocide.
“This genocide has been empowered by colonial structures, evidenced notably by the Indian Act, the Sixties Scoop, residential schools, and breaches of human and Inuit, Métis and First Nations rights, leading directly to the current increased rates of violence, death, and suicide in Indigenous populations,” read the report.
Following the discovery in Kamloops, Trudeau said earlier this month he accepted the conclusion of a 2019 inquiry that “what happened amounts to genocide.”
“Removing headstones is a crime in this country,” he said. “We are treating this like a crime scene.” Delorme suggested through the oral history of community members, the headstones were removed by representatives of the Catholic Church in the 1960s.
Small flags, 751 of them, now dot the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School, each marking the remains of a body. Delorme said both adults and children are believed to be buried in the graves.
Because of poor record keeping, it’s hard to pinpoint what the cause of death was for many students who disappeared at residential schools. Survivors have said some students who were hospitalized never returned, inadequate food supply left some children more vulnerable to disease, and others were threatened with death if they reported physical and sexual abuse.
A North Carolina high school student was denied his diploma Thursday after he draped the Mexican flag over his graduation gown.
The 2021 graduate of Asheboro High School walked up to the stage with his classmates during their graduation ceremony. When his name was called, he walked across the stage to shake the principal’s hand and receive his diploma holder. The ceremony was being live-streamed to Facebook, and the student can be seen wearing the flag of Mexico across his shoulders.
The video shows the graduate reaching for his diploma holder before being stopped by a school administrator. She hesitates to give him the holder and can be seen talking back and forth with the student. The announcer can be heard continuing to read off the names of graduates as the student and administrator spoke about the flag. The student then begins to take off the flag, but he struggles to remove it. He stops when she eventually handed him the diploma holder.
After the ceremony when the student went to pick up his actual diploma, the school allegedly refused to give him the document and asked him to apologize for disrupting the ceremony, WDTN reported.
When the live-streamed video was posted to social media, viewers accused the school administrators of being racist, WXII reported. The statement from the school addressed these allegations.
“We strongly support our students’ expressions of their heritage in the appropriate time and place,” it said. “The accusations being made about our school and district are disheartening. We work with each student daily to ensure they receive rigorous instruction, equitable opportunity, and compassionate care in a safe and inviting learning environment. Across our school and district, we are passionate about seeing all students succeed.”
The Asheboro High School commended the student for his hard work and achievements during his time at the school. The district said they are working with the student and his family to make sure he receives his diploma.
A mass grave containing the remains of 215 children has been found in Canada at a former residential school set up to assimilate indigenous people.
The children were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia that closed in 1978.
The discovery was announced on Thursday by the chief of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was a “painful reminder” of a “shameful chapter of our country’s history”.
The First Nation is working with museum specialists and the coroner’s office to establish the causes and timings of the deaths, which are not currently known.
Rosanne Casimir, the chief of the community in British Columbia’s city of Kamloops, said the preliminary finding represented an unthinkable loss that was never documented by the school’s administrators.
Canada’s residential schools were compulsory boarding schools run by the government and religious authorities during the 19th and 20th Centuries with the aim of forcibly assimilating indigenous youth.
Kamloops Indian Residential School was the largest in the residential system. Opened under Roman Catholic administration in 1890, the school had as many as 500 students when enrolment peaked in the 1950s.
The central government took over administration of the school in 1969, operating it as a residence for local students until 1978, when it was closed.
What do we know about the remains?
The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation said the remains were found with the help of a ground-penetrating radar during a survey of the school.
“To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” Ms Casimir said. “Some were as young as three years old.”
“We sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk’emlups te Secwepemc is the final resting place of these children.”
What reaction has there been?
The reaction has been one of shock, grief and contrition.
“The news that remains were found at the former Kamloops residential school breaks my heart,” Mr Trudeau wrote in a tweet.
What were residential schools?
From about 1863 to 1998, more than 150,000 indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in these schools.
The children were often not allowed to speak their language or to practise their culture, and many were mistreated and abused.
A commission launched in 2008 to document the impacts of this system found that large numbers of indigenous children never returned to their home communities.
The landmark Truth and Reconciliation report, released in 2015, said the policy amounted to “cultural genocide”.
The Pasco County, Florida Sheriff’s Office allegedly has a private database of parents and children they say are likely to become “prolific offenders.” Most of these individuals have no idea they are on the list and now, civil rights and privacy groups are saying it’s illegal and discriminatory.