As if we couldn't love Sesame Street enough, our favorite muppets have expanded their already inclusive lineup to address an often forgotten population: military caregivers and their families.
On Monday, Sesame Workshop and USAA announced their new initiative, Sesame Street for Military Families: Caregiving. Additional support for the initiative is provided by the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
Aimed at families caring for a wounded, ill or injured parent or relative, the program includes:
- Three videos starring Rosita -- a familiar face from Sesame Street -- along with her mother and father, who uses a wheelchair after an injury.
- A music video that features footage of military and veteran families with an injured parent celebrating their "sunny days" together.
- An activity book called "My Sunny and Stormy Days," designed for parents and children to complete together.
- A mobile game for children, playable across desktop and handheld devices, plus five printable activities.
- Two documentary-style videos for adults about parenting after an injury.
- A series of articles for parents about tackling children's tough questions, asking for support, and embracing a sense of family togetherness as routines change.
"Coming home from a deployment with visible or invisible injuries is a huge challenge for any service member or veteran -- especially those with young families," said Sherrie Westin in a news release. Westin is president of Social Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street.
"Even beyond the military community, the reality is that most of us will serve as caregivers at some point in our lives," she said. "With this initiative, we want every caregiving parent and child to know that they're not alone, and that asking for help is always a brave thing to do."
According to the release, "With a host of research-based resources -- including videos starring the Sesame Street Muppets -- Sesame Street for Military Families: Caregiving addresses the specific challenges of family-based care from a child's perspective." The release states that the program is designed to help children understand "why their parent may look or act differently than 'before'; how to safely express complicated or confusing feelings; how their parent's illness or injury can change over time; and how to describe their family's new situation to themselves and others."
It also offers guidance to adults on "re-learning" how to parent while needing care or filling a caregiver role.
"The child-facing resources in Sesame Street for Military Families: Caregiving use the weather -- something even very young children understand -- as a metaphor to explain the ups and downs of caregiving and recovery. On 'sunny days,' kids and parents feel confident, safe and happy spending time together. 'Cloudy days' have small challenges related to the parent's injury or recovery, like missing a planned outing. On 'stormy days,' children may worry about the future and have trouble accepting the family's new normal," the release states.
In one of the videos, Rosita looks at the camera and says, "Our family is like lots of other families, but we do things a little differently with Papi's wheelchair."
Papi pipes in and says, "Like the salsa!" Cue salsa music and tears. The puppets go on to say that they have good days and harder days, but no matter the kind of days, they stick together.
And that, Sesame Street, is why we will always stick with you.
The new Sesame Street for Military Families: Caregiving resources are free to families in English and Spanish.
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