How Sesame Street Offers Support To Military Families: Talk, Listen, Connect

Can you think of a better way to help a child deal with the complex issues raised by parental deployment than watching Elmo raise questions about why his dad is leaving? I’ve recently learned about the extraordinary resources offered by Sesame Street to help kids and parents in military families deal with a number of themes that they may face via their Talk, Listen, Connect educational outreach initiative. Most importantly, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, who is Sesame Workshop’s Vice President for outreach and educational practices. Here’s what I found out.

Talk, Listen, Connect grew out of talking directly to military families about the most important issues they face surrounding deployment. As I have learned via opportunities to talk with military moms such as blogger Laura @ Semperfimomma and Courtney Faith Vera from Celebrate the Military Child, it is critically important to have this type of dialogue to truly understand how deployment affects families. By conducting this research, Sesame Street developed a knowledge base to address the unique challenges facing young kids in military families. They created a number of videos – offered free of charge – that are dedicated to the various transitions that deployment can bring to family life. These include:

  • Dealing with the deployment process (e.g., anticipation, fear, saying goodbye, living without a parent)
  • Making adjustments during homecomings (e.g., dealing with role changes, changes in family dynamics)
  • Accepting and handling injuries to a parent (including invisible as well as visible injuries)
  • Going through the grieving process

Using the skills that the Sesame Workshop team has honed over decades, they constructed these videos to provide age-appropriate representations of these issues. The target audience is 2-5 year olds, but older children (up to age 10 or so) could also profit from watching them. Furthermore, they are intended to serve as platforms for family conversation – they depict the questions that are typically asked by (or are in the heads of) young children who are dealing with deployment and can be used by parents to talk further about the various issues.

Via Talk, Listen, Connect, Sesame Street also offers additional resources for parents and children. And they have just launched a Facebook page – Sesame Street for Military Families - that will provide a new and rich platform for awareness and support.

So whether you are a parent in a military family, or you want to learn more on how to support military families, I strongly encourage you to follow Sesame Street’s new Facebook page. And later this week I will share with you a unique partnership between Sesame Street and the USO that has been bringing entertainment and support directly to military families around the world.

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