Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
In my last post, I wrote about how Sesame Street is helping kids deal with parental deployment. But there’s more. Since 2008, Sesame Workshop and the USO have collaborated to bring a free, traveling tour based on Sesame’s Talk, Listen, Connect Initiative to more than 234,000 military families in the US and overseas. To learn more about this unique partnership, I had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Sloan Gibson, who is the President of the USO.
In this warm and engaging conversation, it quickly became clear that Mr. Gibson has a passion for military families and their children. He shared a number of insights to me that are relevant for military families as well as all of us who wish to support them. He informed me that the tour’s overarching themes and messages include:
- Offering a thank you to military families from the American people
- Recognizing the sacrifices that military personnel and their families make
- Doing something nice and fun for children in military families
- Letting military families know that they are not alone in dealing with issues surrounding deployment
As Mr. Gibson pointed out, the USO is constantly adapting to meet the needs of today’s military personnel – and partnered with Sesame Workshop to develop and launch a tour addressing the growing concerns of the vast number of children who are affected by having a deployed parent (many of whom endure repeated deployments). Over the past 3 years the tour has provided an engaging and fun 30 minute show featuring the Sesame Street characters we all know (including Elmo and Cookie Monster) who gently raise issues facing children in military families. The kids are also treated to a number of gifts including twirly lights, bandanas, magnets and post cards. Parents also have access to a number of outreach materials focused on navigating the significant challenges of dealing with deployment.
This year, the show was revamped with new music, a new set design, and the introduction of a new Sesame Street character named Katie (see close-up). Katie is a military child experiencing the difficulty of relocation who was designed exclusively for the show. The Sesame Street characters help Katie talk about her fears – and excitement – elicited by the changes in her life.
Between the launch last April and the expected conclusion in November, the tour is expected to deliver approximately 147 shows on 59 bases around the world. Of course, we all can’t travel to bases to support military families. But we can take pride that the Sesame Street/USO Experience is doing this for us. Here’s a snippet from one of the shows that will certainly make you feel good: The Sesame Street/USO Experience
To learn more about the USO please visit uso.org
To learn more about the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families and where the tour is headed next, visit uso.org/sesame
To learn more about other programs and services offered by the USO vist uso.org/programs
Photos courtesy of the USO and Fred GreavesAdd a Comment