This heartwarming Twitter story shows the power of media representation

we love 27/07/2018

A Twitter thread about two children at a swimming pool has gone viral for showing how media representation is so important, particularly for children. 

Twitter user @shiphitsthefan shared a story of a little girl who wanted to play with their son because he reminded her of a character on Sesame Street - a non-verbal muppet with autism named Julia. 

Ship posted the story saying "Don't tell me representation doesn't matter."

“I figured it might get a few retweets and help other parents know how to, I guess approach their own preschoolers, and where to look for guidance. I wanted there to be something happy on the timeline.” 

“I shared that little moment because it’s the opposite of discrimination,” Ship continued. “It’s an abled child not seeing a person to help, but someone to coexist with. The reason the story ‘feels good’ is because it’s active participation. Neither party is passive. It’s unqualified acceptance, because the playing field has been leveled through education and understanding.”

Ship said in a follow-up to the initial tweet that they were initially “pissed at Sesame Street’s portrayal of an autistic child, because it hit so many tropes, and every autistic kid is different (It’s not a spectrum; it’s a sundae bar.)” But that was “looking at it like an adult,” Ship tweeted. 

The viral thread was praised by many for it's importance:

Jeanette Betancourt, the senior vice president of US social impact at Seasame Workshop commented on Julia's Seasme Street character, saying: “Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied, and with one in 68 children having autism, that’s a lot of bullying. Our goal is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences. Children with autism share in the joy of playing and loving and being friends and being part of a group.”

What an amazing and powerful story!