7 Times Government Figures and Sesame Street Collaborated

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PBS receives government funding—totaling just about $1.35 for every American per year—so it’s no surprise that smiling and slightly awkward politicians, diplomats, first ladies, and government funded program representatives visit Sesame Street to educate parents and their children about things like staying healthy and safe.

1. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on the importance of vaccines

Recently, Elmo collaborated with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and The Daily Dot to deliver a PSA about vaccinations. Full of adult level humor, references to the current vaccine debate, and Taylor Swift, the video went viral. 

2. Michelle Obama on a healthy breakfast

Since arriving in the White House, Michelle Obama has used her power as first lady to promote healthy eating and exercise. In this video from a 2014 episode, she educates Grover on the value of starting the day with a bit of nutrition.

3. A National Park Ranger on Visiting the National Parks

In a segment from the six-video series “Sesame Street Explores National Parks,” which hit the National Park Service's YouTube channel in 2013, Elmo and Murray play park ranger and learn about the habitats in the Grand Canyon from real life Ranger Amala. The segment ends with a reminder that “parks belong to everyone. So be like a park ranger and help keep our parks clean, healthy, and safe.”

4. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden on Supporting Military Families

In 2011, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden founded the "Joining Forces" program, a nationwide initiative designed to provide service members, veterans, and their families with a stronger support network. In this clip from 2011, Elmo, Rosita, Obama, and Biden explain what individuals can do for the initiative. The PSA has nothing to do with supporting military actions—it just encourages people to be available to help individuals who may need someone to talk to or an extra hand around the house.

5. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on preparing for flu season

In partnership with the Ad Council, Sesame Workshop, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2009 to 2014, and Elmo appear in a 2010 PSA about flu vaccinations and how to prevent the spread of germs. The PSA can be viewed on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services YouTube channel.

6. Kofi Annan on Doing Things the United Nations Way

During a 2001 episode, Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006, mediates a interpuppettary conflict and teaches Elmo and his friends about how to compromise and solve problems peacefully as a group.

7. Bill Clinton on Learning about HIV/AIDS

In this 2006 clip, created for UNICEF's YouTube channel, Bill Clinton speaks with Muppet Kami about what he does as a former president. Together, they discuss the need to talk to children and adults about HIV/AIDS and to educate them about how it’s okay to hug someone who’s HIV positive (like Kami).

BONUS: The Prison System with John Oliver

In this clip, from the first season of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, the host spoofs Sesame Street and teaches puppets about corruption in the prison system. This was not affiliated with the government or with PBS.