Sesame Street Has a New Latina In Town

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Sesame Street welcomes a new Latina character to the iconic children’s show and her name is Nina. The character is the latest in a number of new faces added to the long running children’s program. Nina is a college student working several jobs to fund her education. She is able to pay for school working at the shop, laundromat, and babysitting Elmo.

The young Latina character is bilingual and “uses her wit, compassion and charisma to help the furry residents of Sesame Street solve their daily dilemmas, providing a positive role model for preschoolers,” according to the Sesame Workshop.

“Sesame Street is constantly evolving and has a long-standing history of modeling a diverse community,” as stated on the character description for the official site. “As producers took note of changing demographics in the United States, it was important to represent this diversity in the new addition to the cast.”

Nina is portrayed by 26-year-old Miami born Cuban-American actress Miamian Suki Lopez who is no stranger to diversity in her life and filled with pride to represent Latinas in her role as Nina. “Its funny-you’re so proud to be Latina. I’ve never met somebody who’s so proud” Lopez recalled in a phone conversation with New Times. Lopez responded politely with confusion “Why wouldn’t I be?”

The Cuban-American hopes her Latin pride is clearly seen on the show. “I want to make sure that [my acting] comes cross that I’m proud to be Latina and [that if you’re Hispanic] you should be too,” Lopez said, according to the News Times. Lopez joined the cast for the 46th season. The new addition follows the departure of the beloved first Latina character Maria who exit in 2015 during the 45th season after being on Sesame Street for 44 years.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin who created the petition for Sesame Street to have a college attending Latina on the show said this when speaking of the positive affect it could have “a great opportunity to highlight a millenial Latina who is pursuing a college or graduate degree, or who’s running her own business.” Dr Perez-Litwin believes sending Nina to college will inspire an entire generation of children to do the same.

You can watch Suki Lopez as Nina on Sesame Street daily on PBS’s KLRN at 1pm and on HBO/HBO Latino Sundays at 9am.

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Federal grants target contamination

In order to assist low income areas, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $84,000 to three New York City organizations working to address environmental contamination in their communities. The grants were awarded under EPA’s Environmental Justice small grants program which “supports and empowers communities working on solutions to local environmental and public issues.” These projects were funded in Bronx, Harlem, and Queens and each had different ways of using the grants.

The Eastern Queen Alliance was granted $30,000 in which they engaged local residents in reducing emissions coming from operation of Kennedy Airport. This organization will conduct air monitoring to study impacts of the airport on local air quality. In addition, this organization will offer programs to educate the public about environmental danger risks related to air emissions in their area.

The EPA awarded $24,000 to the West Harlem community for rainwater harvesting systems. This system plans to capture stormwater that flows off rooftops in the neighborhood which will reduce flooding and stormwater flow within the city’s sewer system. This program also holds seminars in order to educate the community on further environmental resolutions.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park awarded $30,000 to the Bronx area in order to help reduce the amount of water flowing from Van Cortlandt Lake and Tibbetts Brook into the sewer. This will occur through classroom studies, hands on group work, and outdoor service projects. This will give residents of the town opportunities to learn about stormwater runoff. This organization aims to reduce sewer overflow that occur often during heavy storm events.