There are countless challenges a service member will face throughout his or her military career, whether it be dealing with deployments, returning from combat changed in some way, or receiving orders to relocate to a new change of duty station.
Sesame Street and the USO know these challenges all too well, and realize that when one family member serves, the whole family serves. To help ease these changes, they came together in 2008 and designed a tour especially for troops and their families called the Sesame Street USO Experience for Military Families. This free, traveling tour has addressed such issues as deployments, homecomings and moving for the past seven years, and even created a character named Katie -- a military child with whom military kids all over the world can identify.
The evolution of this tour reflects the ever changing needs of U.S. military families across the globe, and in May, Sesame Street and the USO will once again launch a brand new show about military-to-civilian transition called “Katie’s Family Transitions to Civilian Life.” This latest installment, running simultaneously with their ever popular hit “Katie is Moving to a New Base,” features new songs and choreography, and brings the journey a service member and his family takes full circle.
“Military kids are the littlest heroes who serve, and the big changes that happen to their parents, impact them as well. Thanks to our longstanding collaboration with Sesame Workshop, we created a show using fun and familiar characters to help address the fears a child may have as his or her family transitions from military to civilian life “said Rachel M. Tischler, vice president of entertainment for the USO.
The 2015 Sesame Street USO tour is scheduled to perform over 95 shows at 45 military bases in nine countries by October and will kick off on May 7 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Based on the needs of military families overseas, each installation will be given the chance to determine which show performs on their base, with some opting for both the new show and the show “Katie is Moving to a New Base” – which was introduced by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden in 2011.
Studies show more than one million troops will exit the military between 2011 and 2016. Military kids move upwards of six to nine times during their preschool through high school education. Tackling these realities head on, Sesame Street and the USO will work together to empower military kids and their parents with the confidence and assurance that they are not going through these transitions alone.
In the new show, Katie -- Elmo’s military friend -- is transitioning back to civilian life at Sesame Street after living on military bases for the past few years. At first, Katie feels unsure about this big change in her life, but her Sesame Street friends help her realize that she will always be a part of the military community even as she goes on this new adventure.
Katie’s experience really echoes that of many military kids. Sesame Street and the USO know that everyone can relate to having to find a new job or changing careers, but military families face that challenge, as well as a host of other important changes when they transition from military to civilian life. For the military family everything is different. From the lingo and clothing to the precision, structure and regulations, all of the rituals of everyday life no longer exist. These types of transitions, along with others, can place stress on both parents and children. To help fill that space and alleviate that burden, the Sesame Street USO tour helps kids express how they are feeling and what they might be thinking.
“The Sesame Street USO tour has reached over a half million troops and their families, and its impact – to include all of the smiles on the faces of so many kids and their parents, makes this tour an important resource,” continued Tischler. “We are honored to have the privilege of bringing this this new show to bases around the world.”
Sesame Street knows kids. The USO knows troops and military families. Together, they’ve visited, entertained and created USO moments for more than half million troops and their families around the world since 2008. It’s the perfect partnership and the perfect time to highlight this unique challenge faced by today’s military community.
To learn more about the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families, please visit USO.org/Sesame.
Karen Hart has been a media consultant for the Sesame Street/USO tour since 2008.
This post was sponsored by the USO.