Sesame Street is adding their first puppet with Autism, Julia.

“She is going to be so powerful on two fronts,” Sherrie Westin, executive vice president of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, tells PEOPLE of Julia. “It will help kids with autism be able to identify with a character and it will also play an important role in destigmatizing autism.

“We want to reach all children in terms of giving them greater empathy and to talk about and increase awareness and understanding.”

For nine months, Sesame Workshop creatives sketched Julia and planned her characteristics, working closely with the autism community and 14 major autism organizations for input.

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