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August 29, 2013

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‘There is Hope': An inmate’s account of the Sesame incarceration Initiative

By Ander Pearce


Ander Pearce and his family

Sesame Street’s newest community engagement initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, was created to comfort and reassure children who have an incarcerated parent as well as provide language and guidance to their caregivers. Since its release, the initiative has been making a real impact on the lives of families and children affected by incarceration across the country. In order to get these materials into the hands of those families that need them most, Sesame Workshop partnered with the Florida Department of Corrections, the third largest corrections system in the United States, to distribute these resources. We recently participated in two events to help distribute incarceration kits to families in Florida: an event produced in partnership with the Florida Department of Corrections at Polk Correctional Facility on July 13th, and an event produced in partnership with Bridges of America at the Orlando Bridge Transition Center on August 10th.

Life-sized versions of our beloved Sesame Street characters came to both events and helped make the day especially memorable for inmates and their families. In order to share just how special these events can be, we asked Ander Pearce, an inmate at the Orlando Bridge Transition Center, to write about the experience he and his family had at the August 10th event with Bridges of America. The Workshop would like to thank Mr. Pearce for taking the time to contribute to our blog.  Read More

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June 17, 2013

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Sesame Visits Families at Rikers Island

By Graydon Gordian


The 2.7 million children in the United States with an incarcerated parent are in a uniquely difficult situation. They feel a number of complex emotions: sadness, shame, guilty, anger. Yet they often don’t feel they are allowed to talk about their experience, partly because the adults in their life oftentimes don’t know how to talk about the experience either. That’s why Sesame Workshop launched Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, a multimedia, bi-lingual (English/Spanish) outreach initiative with stories featuring Sesame Street’s beloved characters that help children feel reassured, loved and supported.  Read More

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June 12, 2013

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‘They Need to Know They are Loved': Centerforce’s Carol Burton on Sesame Workshop’s Incarceration Initiative

By Graydon Gordian


The number of children with an incarcerated parent has increased nearly 80% in the past 20 years. Nearly 2.7 million children have a parent in state or federal prison, yet few resources exist to support young children and families coping with this life-changing circumstance. Children need tools to express emotions, while their caregivers need help maintaining routines and establishing age-appropriate communication around incarceration. That’s why Sesame Workshop has created Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, a new outreach initiative.

This bilingual, multimedia initiative includes material that can help young children with an incarcerated parent find support, comfort and reduced levels of anxiety and sadness, as well as provides parents and care-givers with strategies, tips, and age-appropriate language they can use to help communicate with their children about incarceration.

The Little Children, Big Challenges initiative, which includes efforts to address the loss of a parent, divorce, incarceration and other difficult situations young children face, grew out of Sesame Workshop’s Military Families initiative.

To learn more about why children with incarcerated parents are in need of support, Sesame Workshop sat down with Carol F. Burton, executive director of Centerforce, a non-profit dedicated to supporting individuals and families impacted by incarceration. Ms. Burton also served as an advisor to Sesame Workshop during the development of the Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration initiativeRead More

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