Sesame Workshop Aims to Help Military Children, Keep Families Connected

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2009 - "Sesame Street" usually conjures visions of Muppets teaching young children their letters and numbers, but they also teach life lessons to help military children cope with deployments, injuries, and now, loss.

The newest phase of Sesame Workshop's "Talk, Listen, Connect" initiative is aimed at helping children cope with the death of a loved one.

"Sesame Workshop is committed to providing our military families with the resources they deserve," said Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop. "We hope that 'Talk, Listen, Connect,' which reaches out to all families with young children, will continue to help families discover ways they can be resilient despite experiencing difficult transitions in their lives."

"Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families With Children Cope With the Death of a Loved One" will consist of bilingual, English and Spanish, multimedia materials for young children and adults starring the Sesame Street Muppets.

Sesame Workshop will produce and distribute materials at no cost through organizations that provide services to military families and the general public, including grief centers, social services, and other programs specifically addressing the needs of children and families coping with the death of an immediate family member. The kit materials also will be available online at

The workshop also unveiled the Sesame Street Family Connections Web site and announced the creation of 35 "Sesame Rooms" during a news conference today at the Military Child Education Coalition's National Conference in Philadelphia.

The Sesame Street Family Connections Web site is a child-centered, online space that will keep military families connected across the globe.

With the help of their favorite Sesame Street friends, family members can compose encouraging messages to each other, share artwork and videos, upload photos, and get answers to some questions they may have but didn't know how to ask.

"This rewarding opportunity to collaborate in launching such a creative Web site provides a vital tool in the recovery, resilience and reintegration toolbox that our military families need and deserve," said Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Loree K. Sutton, the director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, who helped make today's announcement.

"Families and warriors will be able to stay connected and share in a safe and nurturing place, joined by their special Sesame Street friends," he said.

Additionally, Sesame Workshop, with the support of New York designer Jonathan Adler and several generous partners, will provide a rich and engaging set of materials to brighten up spaces it's calling "Sesame Rooms."

These rooms provide a much-needed, child-friendly place for military children to play.

Sesame Street will send a "room-in-a-box" to 35 locations across the United States, including military hospitals, libraries, child care centers and family support centers

"The Military Child Education Coalition is delighted to partner once again with Sesame Workshop on its initiatives that have been uniquely beneficial to military children and their families," said Patty Shinseki, a member of the MCEC Board of Directors, during the event.

"Elmo and his friends, Sesame's beloved characters with whom children connect so well, serve as conduits for dealing with the difficult issues in nurturing and sensitive ways," she said. "These valuable tools and resources for fostering resilience help children to thrive during the good times and challenging ones."

The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and several other organizations, including Military OneSource and the USO, have provided support for the "Talk, Listen, Connect" initiative.

*Related Sites:*
Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury  [ ]
Military OneSource [ ]
USO [ ]
Sesame Workshop  [ ]
Sesame Street Family Connections  [ ]

Sesame Workshop Aims to Help Military Children, Keep Families Connected [ ]