April is the month of the military child, and as it comes to a close we want to provide you with some information to help illuminate the experiences of children in military families. It’s important to remember both the unique challenges children from military families face and the resilience skills they possess that help them to thrive when facing those challenges. Sesame Workshop remains committed to providing military families with the resources they need to ensure their children achieve their highest potential.
On Tuesday night the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) hosted their sixth annual Heroes Gala, and Sesame Workshop co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney and her husband, Chairman Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations Peter G. Peterson, were honored at the event. Mrs. Ganz Cooney received the IAVA’s 2012 Civilian Service Award in recognition of all the work Sesame Workshop does to help military families, but in particular Sesame’s Talk, Listen, Connect outreach initiative, which focuses on providing military parents with the tools they need to discuss complex issues like deployment, relocation, injury and the loss of a parent with their children.
“Many parents don’t have the right words to help explain to their child what happens when they must go away, how to reassure their children when they return from service injured, or worst of all, when a parent dies,” Mrs. Ganz Cooney said while accepting the award. “But with the right language, support, and the help of the Muppets, we are able to help. Since its launch, our Talk, Listen, Connect initiative has grown to reach virtually every U.S. military family with young children.”
Mrs. Ganz Cooney went on to thank the IAVA, saying, “It makes it all the more meaningful to receive this honor from an organization that is working every day to advocate for and support our veterans and their families.”
On Sunday over 20,000 people will march down New York City’s 5th Avenue in celebration of and appreciation for our nation’s veterans, and Sesame Workshop is proud to stand alongside them. The annual New York City Veterans Day Parade, the largest in the country, has been just one part of the many ways Americans show our thanks to our veterans and their families for 93 years.
This year, Sesame Workshop did a little something extra to say thank you: Associate Design Director of Special Projects Louis Henry Mitchell created the above painting as a special way of saying thank you to all the men and women who either currently or once served in our nation’s military and their families. On Thursday Mitchell and other members of the Sesame Workshop team presented it to the United War Veterans Council, which puts on the Veterans Day Parade. Read More
When we think about the challenges of military life, we sometimes forget the transitions the youngest members of our military families go through. Our service members’ young children are faced with a number of uniquely difficult circumstances: repeated relocation, the deployment of a parent, homecomings, injuries, even the death of a parent – to name a few. For years, Sesame Workshop has been providing resources that help both military parents and their children stay resilient during those trying transitions, and now those bilingual (English and Spanish) resources are available on our new, free Military Families mobile application.
The Sesame Street for Military Families app includes videos, articles, storybooks and caregiver guides on how parents and children can communicate and express their emotions about challenging transitions.
Sesame Workshop has long been dedicated to the well-being of military families and their children. We reach out to families wherever they are: online, on mobile devices, even on the road. Our partnership with the USO, which brings The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families to thousands of families around the world, has provided infinite smiles and messages of love and support.
As technology evolves, new ways to help children through challenging transitions have emerged. That’s why Sesame Workshop uses online resources like our FamiliesNearAndFar.org website, which provides digital tools for military children, and social media like our Sesame Street for Military Families Facebook page to create an online community for sharing these resources. Our Feel Electric! app for military kids proved that mobile apps could deliver much needed content to help children express themselves during tough transitions. From those successes we knew we needed to provide the grown-ups in these same military families with resources on the device they rely on more and more – that is why we launched the Sesame Street for Military Families mobile app.
Learn more about the app and download it for FREE from the App Store(SM) or Google Play.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.