Woonsocket, R.I., and Boston, Mass., May 13, 2009 - ARTHUR, the award-winning PBS KIDS GO! television series, and CVS Caremark All KIDS CAN, a program dedicated to making life easier for kids with disabilities, are thrilled to announce the grand prize winner of the “ARTHUR/All Kids Can Character Search.” Connor Gordon, 11, of Savage, Minn., was selected for his character, Lydia Fox, a ten year-old girl fox who uses a wheelchair and loves to draw and play basketball. Connor, along with ARTHUR creator and author Marc Brown, unveiled his character at his elementary school in Savage, Minn. In recognition of Connor’s achievement, CVS Caremark presented a donation of $5,000 to St. John the Baptist school for library or arts curricula.
Selected out of an overwhelming 8,500 entries, Connor, along with his character Lydia Fox will be featured in a live-action segment of the ARTHUR show. The segment will be part of an episode airing June 30 on PBS KIDS GO! (check local listings).
“My character, Lydia, wants kids to know that even though she’s in a wheelchair, she can do what everyone else can do, but in her own way,” Connor stated when asked about his character. “I’m so excited.”
Launched in February 2009, the ARTHUR/All Kids Can Character Search invited children ages 6-12 create a new friend for ARTHUR. The activity was designed to educate children about the importance of inclusion and how children of all abilities can play together. It also encouraged parents and children to think about what life is like for someone they know who has a disability.
“We were thrilled with the enormous response from children across the country, and the exceptional thought and detail that went into each of the entries, especially our grand prize winner,” said Eileen Howard Dunn, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations at CVS Caremark. “Connor’s entry really champions the idea of inclusion and helps us to think not only about what life is like for someone with a disability but also about characteristics in each of us that make us unique.”
CVS Caremark All Kids Can supports programs and services that help children with disabilities learn, play, and succeed in life. Since its premiere in 1996, ARTHUR has celebrated the importance of friendship and the value of accepting and including kids with different abilities from all walks of life. Buster proves that kids who can manage their asthma can do anything, Marina shows her friends what it’s like to be blind, George succeeds as a student with dyslexia, and Carl—in an upcoming season—will share what it’s like to have autism.
“We saw thousands of character ideas from around the country,” said Jacqui Deegan, ARTHUR Executive Producer. “We were truly inspired by all them, and especially by Connor’s character, Lydia Fox, whose creativity, intelligence and positive attitude are a perfect match for our series. We think Lydia would make a wonderful friend for Arthur and the gang in Elwood City.”
The Character Search entries were reviewed by the producers of the ARTHUR show, colleagues from CVS Caremark, and a celebrity panel including Tolon Brown from Marc Brown Studios; Terri Mauro, About.com's Guide to Parenting Special Needs; Matt Cavedon from Boundless Playgrounds; Katy Beh Neas, Vice President of Government Relations for Easter Seals; and Susan Kane, Editor-in-Chief of Parenting magazine’s “School Years” edition.
The panel also selected nine Finalists in the ARTHUR/All Kids Can Character Search who will receive prize packages including CVS gift cards and ARTHUR merchandise. CVS Caremark will make a grant of $1,000 to each child’s school for library or arts programs. The finalists in alphabetical order are:
· Emily Glaze of Birmingham, Alabama for her character “Grace Davis”
· Shane Kearney of Lexington, Virginia for his character “Carlos”
· Joseph Kesting of Yardville, New Jersey for his character “Sammy Gato”
· Meaghan Pannasch of Morganville, New Jersey for her character “Arianna Petals”
· Emily Pruitt of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina for her character “Bubby and his service
· Meg Sheeran of Worcester, Massachusetts for her character “Preston McPanda”
· Amy Solov of South Easton, Massachusetts for her character “Kristy Star”
· Eliana Yopp of Santee, California for her character “Alana”
· Charlie Zimmerman of Delaware, Ohio for his character “Frankie Salvador”
For more information about the ARTHUR/All Kids Can Character Search, please visit pbskidsgo.org/arthur/allkidscan.
Funding for the “ARTHUR/All Kids Can Character Search” is provided by CVS Caremark.
ARTHUR, based on Marc Brown's best-selling books, is the highest rated weekday children’s series on PBS among children 6-11 (Source: For PBS, NTI Pocketpiece, October 2007-June 2008). ARTHUR has won numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award, a BAFTA and six Daytime Emmys—four for Outstanding Children's Animated Program. ARTHUR is produced by WGBH Boston and Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc. Executive producers are Carol Greenwald (WGBH), Toper Taylor (Cookie Jar), and Marc Brown (Marc Brown Studios). Directed by Greg Bailey.
Funding for ARTHUR is provided by public television viewers. Corporate funding is provided by Chuck E. Cheese's® and CVS Pharmacy, Inc.
About CVS Caremark All Kids Can
All Kids Can, a program of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust and CVS Caremark, is a five-year, $25 million commitment to support children with disabilities. The goals of All Kids Can are to support children with disabilities by raising awareness in schools and in local communities about the importance of inclusion, creating greater opportunities for physical activity and play, and providing access to medical rehabilitation and related services. CVS Caremark and its more than 215,000 employees help children with disabilities learn, play and succeed through partnerships with leading local and national nonprofit organizations such as Easter Seals and many others across the country. For more information, visit http://www.cvsallkidscan.com.
About WGBH Boston
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of one-third of PBS’s prime-time lineup along with some of public television’s best-known lifestyle shows, many public radio favorites, and a roster of children’s programs that empower kids with innovative, entertaining, curriculum-based content. Among the WGBH-produced children’s titles: Arthur, Curious George, Postcards from Buster, Between the Lions, Design Squad, Martha Speaks and Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. WGBH is the number-one producer of websites on pbs.org, one of the most trafficked dot-org websites in the world, and a pioneer in educational multimedia and in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who rely on captioning or video descriptions. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards . . . even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH received a special institutional Peabody Award for 50 years of excellence. For more information, go to www.wgbh.org.
About PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO!
PBS KIDS, for preschoolers, and PBS KIDS GO!, for early elementary school kids, offer all children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, online and outreach programs. With positive character role models and content designed to nurture a child’s total well-being, PBS’s online and community resources – including PBS KIDS online (pbskids.org), PBS KIDS GO! online (pbskidsgo.org), PBS Parents (pbsparents.org), PBS Teachers (pbsteachers.org), PBS KIDS Raising Readers and literacy events across the country – leverage the full spectrum of media, technology and community to build knowledge, critical thinking, imagination and curiosity. Empowering children for success in school and in life, only PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! have earned the unanimous endorsement of parents, children, industry leaders and teachers. PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation’s 356 public television stations, serving more than 115 million people on-air and online each month and reaching 99% of American homes.
Marya McLaughlin, WGBH Boston