Elmo and Friends Help Military Families and Young Children Cope With Challenges of Multiple Deployments and Combat Related Injuries

Arlington, VA., April 29, 2008 - Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, today launched Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes, the second phase of the Workshop's military outreach program launched initially in 2006. The initiative provides support and offers significant resources for military families with young children experiencing the effects of deployments, multiple deployments or when a parent returns home changed due to a combat related injury. The announcement was made today by Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop, Loree K. Sutton, Colonel (Promotable), MC, USA, Director, Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, Stephen J. Cozza, M.D., Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.) Professor of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and Sesame Street's Elmo and Rosita at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial.

With major support provided by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Military OneSource, the Wal-Mart Foundation, and American Greetings Corporation and additional support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH), the USO (United Service Organizations), the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) and Joseph Drown Foundation, Sesame Workshop has developed Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes to help military families with young children between the ages of two and five build a sense of stability and resiliency during times of separation and change.

According to statistics, as many as 700,000 children under the age of five have a parent in the military. Due to the success of the first phase, Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment, as well as the overwhelming support the first kit generated from the military community, the need was clear to launch this second phase.

Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes seeks to:
  • Reduce the level of anxiety children may experience during homecomings after multiple deployments
  • Help parents with ways to cope with multiple deployments
  • Help young children gain an age-appropriate understanding of a parent.s injury by including them and the entire family in the rehabilitation process
  • Reassure children that they are loved and secure and that together with their families, they can learn new ways of being there for one another and having hope for the future

"The incredible response and impact Sesame Workshop saw from our initial work with military families and the impact it made, inspired this next phase of Talk, Listen, Connect," said Gary E. Knell, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop. "With an increasing number of military parents experiencing multiple deployments and a parent coming home injured, more than ever, these families need help navigating the ups-and-downs of these experiences with their children as well as ways to support one another and find resiliency in the face of change. We hope with the help of their friends from Sesame Street they will continue to discover ways they can continue to forge family bonds despite the situations they may encounter."

According to the Director of the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury U.S., Army Colonel Loree K. Sutton, "This wonderful project by Sesame Workshop demonstrates its long-standing efforts to provide positive development in our children. The Talk, Listen, Connect series is a solid, practical and entertaining learning tool for our military families and will contribute greatly toward psychological health for our troops and their families. What a privilege to work in collaboration with these educational projects that serve those who are serving us."

"Through their generous work in creating Talk, Listen, Connect, Sesame Workshop helps our many young military children affected by deployment and the changes that can occur in their parents as a result of combat exposure. Talk, Listen, Connect provides an opportunity for children to cope with these challenges in positive and reassuring ways," stated Stephen J. Cozza, M.D., Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.). "These much needed materials offer wonderful strategies that can help military families with young children and foster meaningful connections between family members, friends, and communities in their everyday lives."

The resources will consist of a bilingual (English/Spanish) multimedia outreach kit with DVDs for children and adults starring the Muppets from Sesame Street, print materials for children, parents and caregivers and facilitators and American Greeting postcards featuring the beloved Sesame Street characters for parents and children to stay connected. Sesame Workshop will produce and distribute 500,000 kits at no cost to individual families, schools, child care programs, family support programs, hospitals and rehabilitation centers and other organizations serving the needs of military families with the help of Military OneSource, the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH), the USO (United Service Organizations), the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) and other partners. Special emphasis will be made to reach families of the Reserves and National Guard. The kit materials will also be available online at, where streaming video is being provided by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy Program Support Group, so families everywhere can view the videos and download the information.

In continuing efforts to keep families connected, Sesame Workshop will unveil the enhanced Talk, Listen, Connect Web experience in Fall 2008. Supporting the outreach materials, the enhanced Web site will feature fun and interactive activities for families to share together and stay connected.

The project's advisory board, which consists of leading experts in child development, mental health and programs supporting military families, has informed and guided Sesame Workshop on all aspects of the project. They have helped determine the needs and challenges of young children in military families and guide the development of age-appropriate and effective content for the program.

Advisory Board participants include:
  • Patty Barron, Director of Youth Initiatives Department, National Military Family Association
  • Charles F. Bolden, Jr., MGEN, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), CEO of JACKandPANTHER LLC, Board Member of the Military Child Education Coalition
  • Stephen J. Cozza, M.D., Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret), Professor of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences,
  • Amy Goyer, National Coordinator of the AARP Foundation Grandparent Information Center
  • Lil Ingram, Adjutant General Spouse and NCNG Family Programs Advisor, North Carolina National Guard/ Office of the Adjutant General, Board Member of the Military Child Education Coalition
  • Delores Johnson, Director, Family Programs, Family & Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Command U.S. Army
  • Mary M. Keller, Ed.D., Executive Director of the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)
  • Sylvia Kidd, Director of Family Programs for the Association of the United States Army
  • Harold Kudler, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University
  • Nancy Kules, spouse, and Ryan Kules, CPT, U.S. Army (Ret.) Service Disabled Iraq Veteran, Program Manager, Warriors to Work, Wounded Warrior Project
  • Michael L. Lpez, Ph.D., Executive Director and co-founder of the National Center for Latino Child & Family Research
  • Corina Mellado Miller, Clinical Social Worker Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Service / Preventive Medical Psychiatry of Department of Psychiatry in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center
  • Debbie Paxton, R.N., M.S.N., Key Volunteer Advisor & General Officer Spouse, U.S. Marine Corps
  • Patty Shinseki, Board Member of the Military Child Education Coalition, Advisory Board member of the Care of Individuals with Amputations and Functional Limb Loss and The Army Emergency Relief
  • Jean Silvernail, Ed.D., Chief of Military Child Education, Pacific Command
  • Barbara Thompson, Director, Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth, Office of the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
  • Janice Witte, Early Childhood Consultant

Finally, Sesame Workshop will assess the program's effectiveness with spouses of military personnel who have been injured or experienced multiple deployments, and have a young child. Sesame Workshop routinely conducts these assessments in order to focus future outreach programs more effectively.

About Sesame Workshop:
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street. As the single largest informal educator of young children, local Sesame Street programs produced in countries as diverse as South Africa, Bangladesh and India are making a difference in over 120 nations. Using proprietary research to create engaging and enriching content, Sesame Workshop produces programs such as Dragon Tales and Pinky Dinky Doo. In addition, multimedia needs-driven initiatives provide families tools for addressing such issues as children.s health, military deployment and emergency preparedness. As a nonprofit, product proceeds and philanthropic donations support Sesame Workshop.s educational research and creative content for children around the world. Learn more at

Pam Hacker
Sesame Workshop
Stephanie Baumoel
FerenComm for Sesame Workshop