Posts Tagged ‘ Talk Listen Connect ’

Saluting Our Nation’s Littlest Heroes, and Letting Them Know the USO and Sesame Street Are Always By Their Side

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Sesame Street and the USO have now partnered for five years to support military families around the world. As they celebrate this milestone, Rachel Tischler (Vice President of USO Entertainment) and Lynn Chwatsky (Vice President of Sesame Street’s Outreach Initiatives and Partners) offer this guest blog post to announce the new world tour of The Sesame Street/US Experience for Military Families

The children of US service members scream and wave at the start of the USO/Sesame Street Experience for Military Families at USAG Humphreys in South Korea February 9, 2010. (USO Photo by Fred Greaves)

Imagine you are five years old and you haven’t seen your mommy or daddy’s face, touched their hand or received their hug in six months because they’re deployed overseas. Now, imagine two years have passed and your mommy or daddy is back home, you have lots of friends at school, and you’re told the family is moving to a new base far away for the third time.  How do you feel?  And as a parent, what do you do?

These are just two of the many unique and challenging issues our nation’s military families face everyday.  It’s also THE reason Sesame Street and the USO partnered and are celebrating five years of working together to take The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families around the world.  Over the past five years our two organizations have brought the messages from Sesame Street’s military families initiative, Talk, Listen, Connectto life for more than 368,000 U.S. troops and military families.  We’ve performed 631 shows on 145 military installations in 33 states and 11 countries.

We are kicking off our new world tour at a special USO Care Package Service Project event with help from Cookie Monster and our supporters on Capitol Hill.  Next, we’ll head to Alaska to begin performing for and meeting even more military families this year as our journey takes us to 41 bases in 8 European and Pacific countries over the next six months.

For those unfamiliar with our adventure, the tour’s first phase focused on deployment.  Kids and parents related when Elmo said, “Elmo’s Daddy had to go away on a very important trip for lots and lots of days. Elmo sure misses Daddy when he’s away, and sometimes Elmo feels sad.”  Elmo and friends got those same families singing, dancing, and there was even the occasional Muppet mosh pit.

As the military transitioned away from long deployments, The USO and Sesame Street created a brand new show tailored towards another challenge, military family relocation.  The new show introduced a new character named Katie.  Katie is a military kid, and her experiences really echo those faced by military kids.  The show is designed to help other military kids like Katie with issues related to relocation – letting kids know they can stay in touch with old friends and even make new ones when they move.

Kids perk up in surprise as Katie identifies with them, telling audience members, “I’m moving AGAIN.”  And it’s thanks to Katie and her Sesame Street pals Elmo, Rosita, and Cookie Monster, who help her realize that while moving can be scary, she can still rely on her friends to help her through life’s transitions.

The USO and Sesame Street know that families everywhere can relate to the anxiety of moving to a new place, and having to go to a new school and make new friends.  But for military families around the world, it’s a way of life.  According to our friends at the Military Child Education Coalition, kids with parents in the military move six to nine times during their pre-school through high school education.

That’s why it’s important our military families know that Sesame Street and the USO are there.  We know it’s hard to be away from a loved one and that some days are harder than others.  Whether you’re a child, a military spouse, a service member or a nonmilitary member, nothing can change the fact our troops and their families are serving this country every day.  And in the words of Elmo and his pals, “We’re gonna be there for [them].”

As we celebrate the fifth birthday of The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families, we ask that you join in the celebration by offering your own support of military families.  We’ve come up with five things that everyone can do and we hope they will prompt and inspire you:

1.      Volunteer at one of the more than 160 USO locations around the world and discover ways you can take action locally.

2.      Offer to help a military family on the home front who live on or off base.  Whether you see that their lawn needs to be mowed or garbage cans taken in, helping with simple household chores and errands can really relieve some of the stress a family may be feeling.

3.      Teach your child how they can help support military kids in their school by visiting and or

4.      Lend an ear to listen to a military spouse as sometimes just having someone there to vent to or talk to when you may feel all alone can be the greatest support of all.

5.      Say thank you to a military member and their family for their service, sacrifice and strength.  Our troops and their families make sacrifices so we don’t have to and those two simple words say so much.

Whether on the frontlines, with their loved ones, in recovery or in remembrance, the USO and Sesame Street are adapting to meet the needs of those who need us most.  The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families is one of the ways we can help them navigate life’s challenges. To learn more and to see where the tour is headed next visit

Sesame Street characters pose for a photo with service members and their children following a performance of the USO/Sesame Street Experience for Military Families at Atsugi Naval Air Field in Japan, January 19, 2010. (USO Photo by Fred Greaves)

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Muppet Abby Cadabby Is Planning Something (Hint: It Involves Military Families)

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

There’s some indication that Abby Cadabby is planning something special for military families next Saturday. Here’s the official word from the Sesame Street for Military Families Facebook page – click here

As I’ve discussed in prior posts, Sesame Street has been generating resources to support kids in military families (and their parents) for a number of years via their Talk, Listen, Connect initiative. These programs – which have included a number of educational materials as well as a live show in collaboration with the USO – have been timely and very well received by military families here and stationed abroad.

So that said, I’ll keep my eye on what Abby and her friends are up to next Saturday ….

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

Monday, September 19th, 2011

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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