ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It might be one of the most unexpected approaches toward helping new parents in New Mexico. But a state agency is turning to a puppet to help families with young children.
Debuting on YouTube Thursday morning, “The Early Show with Alax” is a product of the state’s Early Childhood Education & Care Department (ECECD.) Hosted by a furry blue and green, bug-eyed alien puppet named Alax, the show is billed as “a playful, informative online series for families with young children.”
The state says each episode will run three to five minutes, using lighthearted humor to give adults tips on “little humans.” The state-funded series is geared toward giving parents a judgement free environment, “answering the questions they may be apprehensive about asking.”
“Families need so much support,” said ECECD Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky at a news conference in Albuquerque Thursday, debuting the show to a crowd at the Explora children’s museum. Groginsky described the show in part as “reaching parents and getting them engaged in a way that also engages their little ones [and] brings them closer to resources.”
In the first episode, Alax hosts Lily Hansen, a home visitor from UNM’s Center for Development & Disability. In basic terms, the show explains what a home visitor does to support new parents. They also explain how families can get a free bassinet from state services, and the “ABC’s of Safe Sleep,” in that babies should sleep alone, on their backs and in a crib.
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The state is planning to release at least three other episodes of “The Early Show with Alax” over the next three months. Those episodes are expected to cover topics including feelings, growing and play.
“Early childhood research shows that children learn through play and now we have a fun-filled show with Alax that captures that joy of learning for the entire family,” Lois Vermilya said in a news release. Vermilya is the director of UNM’s Family Development Program. “New Mexicans can learn right alongside Alax about what makes the early years so important!”
The show is produced by two New Mexico based media production companies, MediaDesk and Film Nest Studios. A Santa Fe-based puppeteer Devon Hawkes Ludlow is the performer behind Alax. The show is an extension of the state’s “Moments Together” initiative, described a a place “where New Mexico families who are pregnant or have young children, ages zero to five, can find easy tips and free resources.”