A program that uses Elmo, Rosita and other Sesame Street characters to help the children of military families is showing signs of success. Our Solomon Syed has more.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit arm of the Sesame Street programs, has teamed up with the Department of Defense and the USO for a program to help military families and their children deal with the stresses of military life. "Talk, Listen, Connect" uses videos and literature featuring the Sesame Street characters and military families to teach children about military service and help parents talk to their kids when a loved one deploys or is injured or killed in military service.
Journalist Bob Woodruff, who was injured in 2006 while covering the Iraq war for ABC News, was on hand to discuss the program at an event in Washington, D.C. Wednesday. Woodruff says people often overlook the consequences military conflicts can have on children.
“People know that those on the battlefield are gonna come back with something whether it’s a huge success or a mild problem or a huge one. But the kids are the ones who are going to go through this even some ways worse because they don't understand it,” said Woodruff.
Retired Marine Nico Marcolongo, who was injured during his second deployment to Iraq, says the Sesame program was instrumental to helping his family deal with some of the difficulties they faced when he returned from combat.
“It took a long time, but having the Sesame Street resources, getting involved with Sesame Street, really helped not only continue that connection with my family, but allowed us to share what we went through with other families so that they would have an easier time when they got back together,” said Ret. Major Nico Marcolongo, U.S. Marine Corps.
Military officials say public-private partnerships like the Sesame Street initiative are critical to helping the nation's families recover from its prolonged involvement in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“What these young men and women and their children see is not that it’s just the government's responsibility to care for them, but that the nation cares,” said General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
With the Sesame Workshop, officials say they are already seeing positive results in children.
“What we've found is that these materials provide a sense of hope, but also a sense of normalcy-- that these feelings aren't unusual and they're also not permanent,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop.