Young boy pours water for muppet Raya to drink from an orange cup

Health and Hygiene

A Serious Yet Preventable Problem

Illnesses related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are the world’s greatest threat to young children. Pneumonia and diarrhea claim the lives of more children under age five than measles, AIDS, and malaria combined. Knowledge can be a powerful antidote—that’s why proper WASH education is so critical.


Our global campaign to bring meaningful sanitation and hygiene education to kids is called WASH UP! Sesame character-filled storybooks, games, videos, and teacher training materials that make healthy habits easy to understand, practice, and adopt.

Meet Raya

Sesame’s lovable characters have the unique ability to reach children and model behaviors around topics adults may see as taboo, such as toilet use and menstrual hygiene. Take our global health ambassador, Raya, an energetic six-year-old who’s guiding conversations all over the world about clean water, handwashing, and proper latrine use. Raya always remembers to wash her hands with soap and water and wear her sandals in the latrine to avoid contracting illness. She encourages children to share what they learn with friends and family, making good habits contagious.

A Wave of Change

Now at work across Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, WASH UP! is measurably shifting attitudes and behaviors in communities around the world. In Nigeria, kids who participated in the program were twice as likely to wash their hands after defecation. Children in India who participated were 48% more likely to use an improved latrine at home. In just two years, WASH UP! has reached over 52,000 children in Zambia and is now part of the country’s primary school curriculum.

Healthier Horizons

With results like these, we’re expanding WASH UP! to accomplish even more. We aim to reach 3.5 million children and caregivers in 15 countries, including Syrian refugees. As the program grows, we’re doubling down on a community-based approach to menstrual hygiene management, one that targets girls before they begin menstruating. That means less illness, more days of school, and more girls free to reach their full potential.

Our Partner

Big Bird and a family with two adults and three children hold hands walking through the woods

Make Your Impact

When you support Sesame Workshop, you’re making a positive difference in the lives of children around the world. Join us!

Your generous donation will be used in a manner that will alleviate the most pressing needs identified by Sesame Workshop. For legal disclosures, click here.

Two women and two young children smile with Rosita outdoors.

Want more Sesame? Great news!

Sign up for our newsletter and get fun videos, great music, resources for parents and powerful stories about how we're helping children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.

By signing up, you will receive updates on our work and ways you can support it. 

By signing up, you will receive updates on our work and ways you can support it.