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Sunday, June 5, 2005

Queen receives ‘Sesame’ and ‘Golden Plate’ awards

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department- New York) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah was presented the 2005 Sesame Workshop Award and the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, this week, for her outstanding contributions to improving the livelihood of children and her humanitarian work, respectively.

The awards are a symbol of her commitment to the causes she supports.

Addressing the audience upon receiving the Sesame Workshop Award at the annual benefit event marking their 35th anniversary, in New York, Queen Rania noted "it is amazing to think that a television program had touched three generations of children without losing its charm or its relevance. Sesame Street has always been driven by what its young viewers need – and marked by its ability to adapt to our complex and fast-changing world."

Presented the award by Ms. Joan Ganz Cooney, Founder of Sesame Workshop, Queen Rania described Sesame Street to which children play in more than 120 countries, as "a thoroughfare for basic literacy, math and life skills, and a path along which children regardless of color, religion or ethnicity, can walk together and learn about each other’s backgrounds and cultures."

Queen Rania went on to add: “…each among us has something of value to contribute…and we all deserve a chance to make the most of our lives.”

The audience, which included the familiar faces of Sesame Street, applauded Queen Rania's remarks when she underlined the strides Jordan had made in education saying: "We’re proud to have been recognized by UNICEF recently for our primary school attendance of 97.2% -- the highest rate in the Arab world, and one that includes as many girls as boys."

She added the Kingdom is working to ensure that "girls stay in school as long as boys to earn high school and college degrees…because that’s the best way to ensure that, in the future, every door will open wide…for all our people."

"Through the doors that Sesame Street has opened wide around the world, children see a future full of color, music, opportunity and hope – and no matter what they look like or where they come from, they’re always assured of a warm welcome and encouraged to come inside," she concluded.

A Jordanian student, Leen Al-Alami, a 22-year-old graduate of Harvard University also participated in the event, noting that she is now “more than anything” a product of her education.

In her remarks prior to presenting Ms. Cooney, Al-Alami illustrated the values, skills and knowledge that Sesame Street has instilled in children, highlighting the significance of education, as the basis of a fulfilling future.

The Sesame Workshop was founded in 1968 as the Children's Television Workshop by a group of visionary educators, researchers, psychologists, child development experts, artists, writers and musicians, who pioneered the concept of entertaining, enriching television that could measurably enhance the lives of millions of educationally disadvantaged youngsters, according to the Sesame Workshop website.

Her Majesty is the third honoree to receive the prize. Previous recipients include UN Secretary General Kofi Anan and his wife, Mrs. Nane Anan, who were awarded jointly.

In addition to the Sesame award, Queen Rania was also on hand to receive the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, at the 44th Annual International Achievement Summit, also held in New York, from June 1st through to June 3rd.

 Established in 1961, the Golden Plate Award is presented annually to approximately twenty-five guests of honor, who are distinguished personalities ‘of exceptional accomplishment in the sciences, professions, business, industry, arts, literature, sports, entertainment, and public service’, at the International Achievement Summit.

In 2004, His Majesty King Abdullah received the award. Their Majesties are amongst several other world leaders to have received the award, including former US presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, as well as Afghan President, Hamid Karzai.