November 10, 2021

Alma Makes Her Way to Homes for the Homeless

By Karissa Muniz, Homes for the Homeless

Fred Rogers Productions and THIRTEEN, hosted an exclusive premiere screening of the new animated series, Alma’s Way, for the students at HFH’s Bronx family residences. The show features Alma, a cheerful, young Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx who uses critical thinking skills to solve everyday problems alongside her friends and family. Viewers are invited into her world as she explores her borough, celebrates her culture, and believes in her ability to think for herself. 

Fred Rogers Productions and THIRTEEN provided popcorn, apple juice, coloring pages, and stickers for the students to indulge in as they watched familiar elements from their community come to life such as the 6 train and small, bustling businesses along the neighborhood streets. 

Students at Allie’s Place Family Residence watch an episode of Alma’s Way.

“The goal at Allie’s Place Afterschool & Recreation is for kids to create bonds within the classroom and embrace their community regardless of their current situation,” says David Belmar, Afterschool Manager at Allie’s Place Family Residence. “Alma’s Way can be really helpful to kids experiencing homelessness; making them feel proud of the borough they currently live in.”  

The representation of Puerto Rican culture resonated with many students, from Alma’s family cooking mofongo, a traditional dish made with fried plantains, to the frequent use of “Spanglish” incorporating a mix of English and Spanish words within conversations.  

The show comes from the mind of Sonia Manzano, a Bronx native, best known for her role as “Maria” on Sesame Street. Manzano drew from personal experiences to create the show in a manner that highlights both the diversity and strong Puerto Rican community within the Bronx. 

“One of Sonia’s original goals for Alma’s Way was to show kids that they have a mind and that they can use it,” says Ellen Doherty, Chief Creative Officer at Fred Rogers Productions and Executive Producer on Alma’s Way. 

“Between the ages of four to six, kids are experiencing more moments in their day-to-day lives where they are figuring things out for themselves. We worked together to develop a series that helps them learn to problem solve, express what they think and feel, and to recognize and respect the perspective of others.”  

Alma’s confidence as she navigates her surroundings—with the help of her family, neighbors, and friends—sets a positive example for young kids as they immerse themselves in her adventures and sing along to her captivating theme song.  

Belmar would like to incorporate more media like this into the Afterschool program “to push a more positive narrative of the Bronx.” 

“It’s important to encourage and inspire students, especially when they are able to see themselves in the shows they watch.” 

You can watch full episodes, play interactive games, and learn about Alma’s Way on the official PBS KIDS’ website: https://pbskids.org/almasway/