A new website for military families with young children integrates a slew of military resources from Sesame Workshop with easy to access guides and cues to help parents work through tough issues with their kids.
SesameStreetforMilitaryFamilies.org provides parents with tools to tackle pretty much every stage of military life. The categories – relocation, homecoming, deployment, self-expression, injuries and grief – are meant to help parents navigate the issues their particular family is facing.
“Our missions is to help children grow smarter, stronger kinder,” said Rocio Galarza, Sesame Workshop’s assistance vice president. “To do that we have to talk about not only what the child needs, but what the family needs.”
There is very little resource wise about the new site that will be totally new to military families. If you’ve used any of their Talk, Listen, Connect DVDs in the past, checked out their military moves app or even attended a USO Sesame show, you’re probably at least a little familiar with what they do.
What is new here, however, is being able to find it seamlessly in one place.
That’s on purpose, Galarza said. When her team looked to design the new site, they asked military family users what they wanted and needed most.
Their response? Easy to access information.
“For parents the priority was really the information,” she said. “For them having that information – having a website that was really clearly for them and then choosing what to share with their kids – was what they wanted.”
As a 30-something parent, it’s difficult to not be already over the moon about anything Sesame Street. I can’t help it: I’ve been indoctrinated from birth. As a not particularly creative youngster, my pretend friend was Cookie Monster and I simply adored Oscar the Grouch. And both of my kids had a total fascination with Elmo. So if you’re looking for an unbiased assessment of what Sesame Workshop does, I have to be honest with you – you’re not going to find it here.
But what I can tell you is that this site is easy to navigate, packed full of information that resonates with my no longer Sesame-aged children and makes me feel like I’ve got the tools I need to help them navigate the hard topics that come along with military life.
The developers worked with the parent focus groups to design how topics are displayed and information is organized on the site. Topics that are common – like homecoming and deployment – are on top. Topics that are more sensitive and a parent may want to navigate with their child – like grief and injuries – are on the bottom.
“We know it’s only a small group in the military that will be able to use those [sensitive] resources but they all wanted to see them there and know that they had resources available,” she said.
Galarza said she hopes this site will successfully add to the tools military families already have.
“For us it’s very important for [military families] to know that we know they are resilient, strong and resourceful,” she said. “These resources are meant to build on that. What we want is for them to have a tool where they find simple tips and simple strategies that they can communicate with their children.”