By Jackie Burrell
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 at 12:33 pm in TV.
Arthur, the beloved anteater from Marc Brown’s books and PBS-Kids show, is getting a new buddy. The show ran a disability awareness character contest last month that asked kids to draw a new, disabled character for the series. Some 8,500 entries poured in. Now Minnesota 11-year-old Connor Gordon and his winning character, “Lydia Fox” (pictured), will be featured on the show on June 30. Lydia, we’re told, uses a wheelchair, and loves drawing and playing basketball. Naturally, there was huge excitement at Connor’s elementary school when Marc Brown showed up to announce the winner and present a $5,000 donation to Connor’s school library. “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 told the press. “I’m so excited.”
Lydia is not the first Arthur character to embrace life with special needs. As any Arthur-ophile will tell you, the anteater’s buddy Buster has asthma, Marina is blind and George has dyslexia. An upcoming episode deals with autism. In other words, a reflection of the typical U.S. classroom, where children with all sorts of challenges happily learn and play together. Welcome, Lydia!