united states | talk, listen, connect
Arming military families with love, laughter, and practical tools for deployment.
Almost 800,000 preschoolers are separated from a parent serving in the U.S. military.
For these children and their families, Sesame created Talk, Listen, Connect (T.L.C.), a multiphase educational outreach initiative designed to help kids through deployments and homecomings, combat-related injuries, and the death of a parent or loved one. Through bilingual outreach kits, two award-winning TV specials, live performances on military bases, and a social media site, TLC guides families through hard transitions by showing how other parents and children — as well as furry monsters — deal with similar circumstances.
In a video about coping with injuries, Rosita struggles to accept her father’s new wheelchair, wishing things could go back to the way they were. She gets support from real-life kids who share how they’re coping with a parent’s injury, while parents describe how they’ve successfully talked to their kids about the situation. In the storybook Something Small, Elmo’s cousin, Jesse, has trouble remembering her father who died. With help from her mom and Elmo, Jesse remembers to do “small things” such as wearing Daddy’s favorite hat to keep Dad in her heart.
Since its launch, TLC has grown to reach virtually every U.S. military family with young children — with more than 2.5 million education kits distributed so far and countless free downloads.1 And several studies show that our kits work for these families: 80 percent of parents felt the Deployments kit helped their children better handle future deployments. After using the kit, children exhibited fewer negative behaviors, such as being demanding and impatient.2 Similar improvements were reported with kits designed for children with an injured family member: 71 percent of caregivers felt the kit helped their child cope.3
Funding support provided by the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund of the California Community Foundation, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, Walmart, BAE Systems, the Department of Veterans Affairs - Vet Center Program, New York Life Insurance Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation, New York State Office of Mental Health, USO, Military Child Education Coalition, American Greetings Corporation, McCormick Foundation, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
2 Russell Research. (2006). Talk, Listen, Connect Kit Evaluation,
3 Military Families Research Institute. (2009) Findings from the Talk, Listen, Connect (TLC II-MD) Kit Evaluation; Findings from the Talk, Listen, Connect (TLC II – Changes) Kit Evaluation.