Monday, April 9, 2007

Elmo Helps Kids Cope With Deployed Parents

Over half a million children under the age of 5 are waiting for their active duty, Guard or Reserve, mother or father to come home - the most since World War II. The producers of Sesame Street, along with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, have responded with a television special geared to address the challenges military families face with deployment. This primetime special, hosted by Cuba Gooding, Jr. captures the extraordinary courage and touching vulnerability of both parents and children. In recognition of April as the “Month of the Military Child,” PBS will air a special encore presentation of When Parents are Deployed tonight (April 9).
If you miss the special airing tonight or want to watch it a a more convenient time with your child, the entire program can be viewed online at

The special builds upon Sesame Workshop's recent educational outreach program produced in partnership with Wal-Mart Stores, Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment.
Compelling research illustrates how Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, has been successful in helping children cope with the challenges of military deployment.
In July 2006, Sesame Workshop launched Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment, a bilingual, multi-media outreach kit developed to provide tools and ideas to parents and caregivers on how to help children cope with the process of deployment.
Findings from the survey including a national sample of 367 spouses of active duty, National Guard and Reserves personnel from all five branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Coast Guard), indicated that after four weeks of exposure to the kit:
* More than 80 percent of families rated the kit as highly appealing, effective, and comprehensible for adults and children.
* Families expressed increased comfort levels in helping children cope with current and future deployments by utilizing suggestions and strategies from the materials.
* Parents reported feeling less depressed and hopeless.
* Families reported that their children exhibited fewer negative behaviors and an increase in constructive family interactions about deployment.
“The evaluation data strongly supports that parents appreciate and want resources on how to support their young children during deployments. I am so pleased that Sesame Workshop undertook this effort to support military parents of young children, and I am especially pleased that careful evaluation was part of the effort from the very beginning,” stated Shelley MacDermid, Ph.D., co-Director of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University. “The thoughtfulness with which the developers sought guidance from researchers and other experts as the materials were constructed was instrumental to their success, and today’s findings speak for themselves.”
The Talk, Listen, Connect materials include a DVD for children and adults featuring the Muppets from Sesame Street; a poster for children; and a magazine for children, parents and caregivers that addresses the challenges and concerns experienced during various phases of deployment (pre-deployment, deployment and homecoming).

The kits were distributed to military families by The Department of Defense through Military OneSource various outlets at no cost.
In just the first two weeks of distribution, more than 100,000 requests for kits were received and interest continues each day.
The Talk, Listen, Connect kits are also available online at, where streaming video is being provided by The Department of Defense Quality of Life Information Technology Center.

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