Mindy Brooks is Director of Education and Research for Sesame Workshop.
My first vivid memory of a tornado was the day my sister was born. I was 4 years old, it was nighttime, and I was alone with my grandmother who spent the majority of her adult years in Papua New Guinea. I vividly remember hearing the voice of Gary England (an Oklahoma meteorologist) giving advice about the storm and telling us to quickly take cover. To my preschool brain it was targeted solely for us and our house. I remember the panic my grandma expressed as she was new to tornados. I remember talking about how to take cover, securing the mattress over us in the bathtub, and holding on to her. And, even more vividly, I remember the feeling of fear that my parents weren’t there to protect me. Read More
Image via blackrose916... on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.
I have taught in a K-4 elementary school for twenty-five years. The school is located at the south end of a beautiful old seaport on the south shore of Long Island, the last exit before Jones Beach. I lived here for over thirty of my adult years, and as a child, my family docked our boat behind an antique shop on one of the canals. I remember families of otters swimming in front of the boat and real church baptisms held on the opposite bank from our dock. A lot of things have changed here over the years, and a lot of the old Victorian homes have seen better times, but it is still a beautiful place.
The school was built fifty years ago, a blue two story building opposite a large park, and at the head of a canal that is home to many restaurants, fishing boats, and party boats. It is a popular Long Island destination especially in summer. From the classrooms, you can hear the horns blow as the fishing boats go out for half day charters in the early afternoon. Mergansers, gannets, and Canadian geese spend time in the park across from the school. Sometimes you can spot what looks like a football floating on the canal and upon second look realize that it is a seal. I have always felt lucky to be here. Read More
Hurricane Sandy was an unprecedented super storm that hit parts of the East Coast badly, and we at Sesame knew we wanted to do anything we could to help those affected by it. Fortunately, a few years ago we had created Here for Each Other: Helping Families After An Emergency, an outreach resource that we knew could be helpful in getting families through this tough time. We reached out to our various partners to offer up this resource, and were relieved to find that so many of them were already doing such wonderful work in their communities, helping families through the aftermath of the storm. In particular, a partner in our Healthy Habits for Life initiative, the US Department of Health and Human Services, Region II, (HHS) was already working with other federal agencies to support the response and recovery efforts for communities impacted by the storm. We wanted to support them in any way we could. Read More
After Hurricane Sandy struck, Sesame Workshop sprang into action. Elmo took to the airwaves to calm children and help them understand the disorder surrounding them. We used our social media outlets to make sure as many affected families as possible were aware of the resources and tools offered by our hurricane outreach kit. And this Friday we’re airing a very special episode of Sesame Street. Read More
Following the first phase of the educational media outreach initiative to provide emergency response resources for children and their families in China, Sesame Workshop, together with the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF) and MSD announced today that they will begin distributing emergency preparedness content. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street; CYDF, best known for launching the “Project Hope” program to help provide underprivileged children with access to education throughout China; and MSD, a global healthcare leader, launched the outreach initiative in December 2010 and the first phase distribution in April, 2011.
Sesame Workshop is committed to working with educators to create dynamic content in order to provide Chinese children with the cognitive and social skills needed to reach their highest potentials. One component of the project is to provide tools to address the needs of children in the aftermath of natural disasters and to support the development of Hope Primary Schools in poverty-stricken rural areas.
The second phase of Outreach addresses emergency preparedness. With news and learning resources dedicated to help children and their families recover from disasters, there are limited resources and instructions to help get families prepared for emergencies before they occur. To address the importance of emergency preparedness, the partners worked closely with CYDF to evaluate the materials to ensure the contents are appropriate and effective for Chinese children and their communities.
Currently, 75,000 kits have been distributed across 15 provinces in China that have been either prone or recently experienced a natural disaster. This kits include educational DVDs, which help children learn how to deal with natural disasters in an engaging way, a parent/caregiver magazine that teaches families how to develop an emergency plan and a children’s activity book which extends their knowledge with fun and useful exercises. The goal of these kits is to prepare families for the event of a natural disaster so that they can be ready to deal with whatever may come.
For more information, read the full press release here.