Lynn Chwatsky is Sesame Workshop’s Vice President of Outreach Initiatives and Partners. She has been overseeing the work the Workshop does with military families since 2006.
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.
Congratulations to the Sesame Workshop team for receiving an Emmy for Growing Hope Against Hunger, a special focusing on the invisible crisis of food insecurity in the United States. Food insecurity is a difficult issue for parents and children to discuss, and Growing Hope Against Hunger sought to present personal stories about food insecure families that would help raise awareness about hunger as well strategies that have helped these families grow stronger and more secure. Congratulations to Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente, Supervising Producer Melissa Dino, Senior Producer Mason Rather and Producer Kevin Clash.
Since its founding, Sesame Workshop has been dedicated to making sure kids grow up healthy and strong. In recent years, our partner Sam’s Club has helped us further that goal by in part funding the creation of Sesame Street’s “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me” outreach kits. The bilingual (English/Spanish) outreach kits include an original Sesame StreetDVD and a family booklet. There’s also additional activities and information at SesameStreet.org/Teeth.
As part of its commitment to the health and wellbeing of children across the country, Sam’s Club is offering free health screenings for children at all locations with a pharmacy. In addition to the screenings, a limited supply of “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me” outreach kits will be distributed as well, in the hopes of providing children and parents with the information they need to make choices that will have a positive impact on their oral health.
Bill Ayres is the executive director of WhyHunger, an anti-hunger organization he co-founded in 1975. Summer is an important time of year to focus on child hunger, which Sesame Workshop’s Food For Thought outreach initiative is committed to battling. Ayres sat down with the Workshop to explain how his organization fights child hunger, why it is such an important issue during the summer months and why his organization utilizes the anti-hunger materials Sesame Workshop makes available.
To put it simply, Why hunger? Why, as Americans, is hunger an issue that we should be concerned about?
Well, that is our name: WhyHunger. We have that name because we are asking the question, why is there hunger in the richest country in the world? Why is there hunger in a world that can feed itself? Hunger is an obscenity. Hunger in America is the ultimate obscenity. There are about 17 million children and 49 million people all together that are food insecure. That means they aren’t starving but they miss meals and they eat less. They don’t get the right kinds of food. That is devastating for kids especially.
Matt Rogers with Rosita, Elmo, Gordon and the Marine Corps band.
Matt Rogers is the host of Lifetime’s Coming Home. On Memorial Day he performed Sesame Street’s new resiliency anthem with Elmo, Rosita, Gordon and the Marine Corps band. We recently sat down with Matt to talk about his Memorial Day performance, his admiration for our servicemen and women, and how he became the host of Coming Home.
Tell me a bit about the performance on the Intrepid on Memorial Day.
I had a blast. I felt like I was in my element. I’m a father of two and being in that role with two small kids is so much fun. When you’re doing something that you love to do, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like fun. It felt great to be able to go out there and help these military families take their mind off what they’re going through. Read More
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.
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 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.
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.