united states | you can ask...and more

Delivering a little comfort and lots of hugs amid great devastation.

Children’s Education Initiatives in the United States | Outreach | Dealing with disasters

When disasters leave families reeling, Sesame Street is on the scene with support, friendship, and a reassuring dose of laughter.

Reaching out a helping hand in times of need, Sesame Street creates content and outreach materials to help families cope.

In the wake of September 11, 2001, children as well as adults experienced fear and shock from the day’s tragic events. To help families process these complex emotions, we created four special Sesame Street episodes covering such topics as coping with loss, cultural diversity, and appreciating firefighters. We also partnered with Project Liberty, an effort by the New York State Office of Mental Health, to help families following 9/11. The result isYou Can Ask, an educational outreach kit with guidance for parents, caregivers, and mental health professionals about how to talk to and support children experiencing stressful situations.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Sesame was there for families whose lives were changed forever by the flood. We created Hurricane on Sesame Street, a five-part series that teaches children how to cope with events such as a hurricane with help from their Muppet friends.

And following the 2010 earthquake that left 2.1 million Haitians displaced, we sent 1,000 DVDs to Haiti for community viewings, featuring the Sesame Street cast and Haitian children offering words of encouragement in Creole language.

Sometimes what’s needed the most is simply being there, bringing the familiar comfort of Elmo and friends directly to children in their moment of need. Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, Sesame puppeteers went to New Orleans to deliver hugs and laughter — the best relief, however temporary, from stressful circumstances.

And after Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the beloved Muppets made personal visits to kids at the epicenter, along with 10,000 Muppet coloring kits, to provide a welcome distraction and remind children theirSesame Street friends are there for them.