Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sesame Street USO Event Helps Kids with Moves

By Robyn Mincher, DCoE Strategic Communications

At the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families event May 16 at Fort Belvoir, Va., Sesame’s favorite furry friends introduced a new character — Katie, a military child.

“You will love Katie!” Grover said. “She’s always so happy and peppy!”

Yet when the new Sesame Street character came onstage, she seemed sad.

“I just found out some really big news,” Katie said. “My family will be moving to a new base. I won’t be around here anymore.”

The character’s stress resonated with the audience of service members and their families. Moving is a part of life for many military families, especially in the summer, as thousands uproot and relocate to a new place each year. It can be tough to leave friends behind and become the new kid at school again. Some kids, like Katie, feel that every time they finally feel at home somewhere, it’s time to move again. Most aren’t happy about moving, but as the TV characters explained, there are ways to take on the challenge with a smile.

“It can be hard to be the new kid on the block. This shows how to build confidence, learn to say hello, find new friends and learn new surroundings,” said Ariel Dominick, a military spouse who brought her 3-year-old son to the show along with her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Adam Dominick.

Elmo, Cookie Monster and Rosita, another military child character, danced and sang as they taught Katie important lessons on how to stay resilient. Tips were shared such as swapping letters and emails with old friends left behind, maintaining a positive attitude and not underestimating the power of a simple “hello” to spark conversations with new people. Sesame characters encouraged kids to keep their head up, because all children of those who serve have unique, inherent resilience when facing challenges. At the end of the performance, Katie, with her head high, sang of her excitement for a new adventure.

“I can't wait to meet everyone and make lots of new friends. It's always great to have friendly faces in different places!” she said.

The tour, which first launched in 2008, is scheduled to roll onto more than 65 military installations across the country by the end of this year.

“With the help of friends like Elmo, Cookie Monster and Katie as well as happy songs, we are able to lift the spirits of our nation’s military children like never before,” said Sloan Gibson, USO president and CEO.

After the performances, information and resources to help military families cope with transitions are available for families to take home. Sesame Workshop, along with others, offers resources for kids and parents including:

■Moving tips for preschoolers, school-age children and families offered through familiesnearandfar.org — with resources for grown-ups, too
■Talk, Listen, Connect offers tool kits and videos that help families manage deployments, grief and changes
■Military Youth on the Move is the Defense Department’s one-stop shop where kids and teens can get advice and access resources on moving
■Visit Family Matters for tips to ease summertime moves
■MilitaryKidsConnect.org offers online journals and videos to connect with other military kids

Check uso.org/sesame to learn more and find out when the tour is coming to your town.

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