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Sesame’s VP of Outreach Receives Outstanding Civilian Service Award

By Graydon Gordian



Lynn Chwatsky (right) stands next to Gen. Raymond T. Odierno during the ceremony.

As an entire organization, Sesame Workshop is dedicated to improving the lives of servicemen and women and their families, but a few people at Sesame deserve special recognition for the work they do on behalf of military families. Lynn Chwatsky, Vice President of Outreach Initiatives and Partners for Sesame Workshop, is one of those people. That’s why we’re proud to announce that last week Lynn was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Award, an award given to civilians who make a “substantial contribution” to the military.

General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, presented the award to Lynn and an esteemed group of fellow recipients: New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, NBA referee Bob Delaney, and Linda Patterson, President and Founder of America Supporting Americans.

“I’m humbled,” Lynn said. “Every second of everyday our servicemen and women serve our country with dignity, honor and respect. For them to thank me – I was honored. It was very special. It was one of the top few days of my life.”

To learn more about the ways Lynn and the rest of the Sesame Workshop team support military families, click here.

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May 30, 2012

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My Week with the U.S. Military

By Sherrie Westin


Sherrie Westin (bio) is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Sesame Workshop. Recently, she spent a week traveling with the Department of Defense Joint Civilian Operations Conference, which she recounts below.

One of my favorite moments from my recent week with the military was flying out on a Chinook helicopter, with the back door wide open, watching the other helicopters following in formation. We had just been “rescued” from a scene right out of Iraq, but it was at Fort Bragg Army base.

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May 23, 2012

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Sesame’s Newest Outreach Initiative: Helping Children Build Resilience

By Graydon Gordian


Helping children persevere through changes and transitions is a critical part of Sesame Street’s mission. That’s why Sesame Workshop, the educational non-profit behind the iconic children’s show, is proud to announce Little Children, Big Challenges, a new outreach initiative dedicated to building skills for resilience in children ages 2–5 to help them persevere through day-to-day as well as more difficult challenges.

Learning from mistakes; making new friends; resolving conflicts: these are the kinds of early childhood struggles with which Little Children, Big Challenges will help young kids cope. The initiative will help children from every background, including those of military and veteran families, remain resilient while working through these and other challenges.

The bilingual (English/Spanish) initiative will feature online, interactive resources for parents and children, as well as the “What We Are” anthem, which you can watch above. The anthem will be performed live by the Quantico Marine Corps band, Sesame Street’s Gordon, Elmo and Rosita, and Matt Rogers, the host of Lifetime’s Coming Home, at a special event aboard the Intrepid this Saturday, May 26.

Major support for Little Children Big Challenges is provided by BAE Systems, Inc. Generous support is provided by The Prudential Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the USO, and Military Child Education Coalition.

To learn more about how Sesame Workshop is helping children build resilience, visit Sesame Street’s military families website or the Little Children, Big Challenges page at SesameStreet.org, which will launch Friday.

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May 09, 2012

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Mandela Family, Mayor Bloomberg and Sesame Street Support Road Safety

By Graydon Gordian


The Mandela family, Mayor Bloomberg and Grover at an event for the Zenani Campaign on May 2.

“Every year almost 1.3 million people are killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads – and many of those victims are children. That is simply unacceptable.”

Those words, spoken by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week, are taken very seriously here at Sesame Workshop.  Continuing its support of the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street is working with partners from around the world to help raise awareness and promote safe road practices.  Most recently, we teamed up with Mayor Bloomberg and the family of former South African President Nelson Mandela to help support the Zenani Campaign, aimed at increasing road protection for children, especially those in developing countries.

According to some estimates by 2015 road crashes will be the number one killer of children in Africa, surpassing both Malaria and AIDS. Nelson Mandela himself has already lost a young family member to a traffic accident: Zenani Mandela, for whom the campaign is named.

Promoting the health and wellbeing of children the world over is at the core of Sesame Workshop’s mission. That’s why Sesame Street’s Road Safety Ambassador Grover and the rest of the Sesame Street family are happy to lend their support to the road safety education and outreach initiatives being pioneered by the Mandela family and the United Nations.

To learn more about the work we do to encourage road safety, click here.

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Watch Sesame Workshop’s Panel on Military Families

By Graydon Gordian


Click here to download the Military Families Highlights Video

For years Sesame Workshop has been working to better the lives of military families. We’re excited to present research and analysis which demonstrates just how effective our military families initiative has been. At a panel moderated by Bob and Lee Woodruff, both widely respected journalists and founders of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Sesame Workshop unveiled the findings of a report by the Military Families Research Institute, Russell Research and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Service University of the Health Science, on the ways in which Sesame Workshop’s outreach efforts have helped military families persevere through the challenging transitions that accompany military life.

The panel included an esteemed group of experts: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey; Charles E. Milam, Principal Director for Military Community and Family Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense; Patty Shinseki, Board Member of the Military Child Education Coalition and advisor for Joining Forces, a White House initiative that brings attention to the needs and sacrifices of veterans, service members, military families and their children; Dr. Stephen Cozza, Colonel USA (ret.), Associate Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Services University of the Health Science; Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President Outreach and Educational Practices at Sesame Workshop; Dr. Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Professor and Director, Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University; and Major Nico Marcolongo, USMC (ret.), Program Manager, Challenged Athletes Foundation Operation Rebound.

The panel was on Wednesday, April 18. You can watch highlights from the event above.

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April 17, 2012

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Helping Military Families Heal: A Conversation with Lee Woodruff

By Graydon Gordian


Lee Woodruff and her husband Bob, who was injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2006.

Lee Woodruff is the co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the mission of which is to provide resources and support to injured service members, veterans and their families. For years Lee, her husband Bob Woodruff and Sesame Workshop have worked together to help military families stay strong as they experience the many challenging transitions that accompany military service. On Wednesday, April 18, Lee and her husband will be moderating a Sesame Workshop panel on military families which will include such esteemed guests as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Patty Shinseki, board member of the Military Child Education Coalition and advisor for Joining Forces, a White House initiative that brings attention to the needs and sacrifices of veterans, service members, military families and their children, and encourages action to provide broad-based American support to them.

To learn more about the work Sesame Workshop does with military families, visit Sesame Workshop’s Military Families page. To watch the Sesame Workshop panel on military families live on April 18, click here.

Sesame Workshop: Tell me about the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the particular way it goes about bettering the lives of service-members and their families.

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Service is More than a Word: Sesame’s Carmen Osbahr on Military Families

By Graydon Gordian


Carmen Osbahr is a performer on Sesame Street. She is best known for her performance of Rosita, a Spanish-speaking monster who has appeared on Sesame Street since 1991. In addition to her work on the show, Carmen plays a major role in Sesame Workshop’s military families initiative. She and Kevin Clash, who performs Elmo, perform for the children of military families at USO shows both in the United States and abroad, making up just one part of the work we do with the USO. We recently sat down with Carmen to learn more about the work she does with the USO and how working with military families became so important to her.

To learn more about the work Sesame Workshop does with military families, click here.

Sesame Workshop: You recently came back from a USO tour. Tell me a bit about the work you’ve done with the USO in the past.

Carmen Osbahr: That was our second tour. The first one was in 2010. At the end of the year we went to Germany, where the USO took us to two military bases. It worked out so well that this time they took us to Guam and Hawaii. It was really cool.

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April 10, 2012

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USO and Sesame Street Launch New Military Families Tour

By Graydon Gordian


The longest running tour in the history of the USO hit the road again this week when the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families kicked off its latest adventure at the Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Between now and November the tour will stop at 65 military installations around the country and put on more than 235 shows. The tour features Elmo, Rosita, Cookie Monster, Grover, Honker and Katie, a new character created specifically for the tour to help children of military families deal with the challenges of relocation. Get a closer look at the fun everyone had at the tour’s inaugural show by clicking through the photos below. And be sure to stop back by SesameWorkshop.org throughout April, month of the military child, to learn more about the way our organization supports the families of the brave men and women who serve our country.

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March 06, 2012

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Highlights from the Launch of Sesame Street’s New Oral Health Initiative

By Graydon Gordian


It’s critical that children learn the importance of oral health early in life. That’s why Sesame Workshop was so excited for last week’s launch of “Health Teeth, Healthy Me,” our new bilingual oral health outreach initiative that helps teach kids, parents and caregivers why it’s never too early to start learning how to brush your teeth. Please take a few minutes to watch some highlights from the “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me” launch, but don’t blame us if you find yourself singing the “Brushy Brush” song for the rest of the day.

If you want to learn more about our new oral health initiative, made in partnership with Sam’s Giving Made Simple and the MetLife Foundation, read our question and answer session on the importance of oral care among young children with Dr. James Crall. You can also check out Sesame Street’s ”Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me” page to find more fun videos and games that make kids smile while also teaching them how to keep that healthy smile.

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March 01, 2012

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The Importance of Dental Hygiene in Children

By Graydon Gordian


Dr. James Crall is a pediatric dentist and a professor of pediatric dentistry and public health & community dentistry at UCLA. He has served as a member or consultant on numerous national panels concerning oral health and advised Sesame Workshop on the development of our new oral health outreach initiative. We spoke with Dr. Crall in order to learn more about the general state of children’s oral health in this country and ways parents can help encourage an emphasis on oral health.

Sesame Workshop: First and foremost, tell me about the general state of oral health among young children in this country?

Dr. James Crall:  Looking at the big picture over time there have been significant improvements in children’s oral health in this country. However, the first ever U.S. Surgeon General’s report on oral health in 2000 noted that there remains a “silent epidemic of dental problems.” Nationally things have improved since then, but despite those improvements there is still disparity in children’s oral health and millions of children still face significant problems accessing dental care, especially young children.

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