|WASHINGTON, March 18, 2009 – Sesame
Workshop continues to find unique and creative ways to reach
out to the very youngest in military families, Deputy
Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said here today during
a sneak preview of a new primetime Sesame program. |
“There are few characters more beloved than the Sesame
Street friends, and through Elmo and Rosita, military kids
can better grasp how to reconnect with their loved ones
after redeployment,” Lynn said. “They will see that they are
not alone in feeling confused or anxious, and that they and
their families can learn new ways of ... supporting one
“Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change,” is
scheduled to air April 1 on PBS at 8 p.m., in conjunction
with the start of the Month of the Military Child. The show,
which features Queen Latifah, musician John Mayer, and of
course, Elmo, allows viewers to step inside a few military
families' lives and learn how they've coped with
With some help from Elmo's friend Rosita, the trio talks
with real military families who have faced changes because
of a loved one's injuries, which can be either external and
visible or internal and invisible.
And Rosita can relate to the military children. Her father's
legs “don't work any more,” and he uses a wheelchair. he
finds that just like her father and her, the military
families are adapting to changes in the same way: together.
The relationship between Sesame Workshop and the military,
which produced “Talk, Listen, Connect,” an initiative
providing support and resources for military families facing
deployments or changes due to combat, began several years
ago, Lynn said.
“The program we are celebrating today is a terrific effort
to help those families,” he said. “Many of our
servicemembers will tell you they fight for our country, but
they also fight for our kids and they fight for their kids.
“I know they appreciate groups like Sesame Workshop that are
looking out for their interests at home,” Lynn added.
The initiative offers some of what Veterans Affairs
Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said men and women in uniform
deserve for their service.
“Those who serve our country in uniform deserve the very
best nurturing we can provide, and that includes helping
their precious children learn to live with a mom or dad who
may not be quite the same person they watched go off to
war,” Shinseki said. “We are grateful to Sesame Street for
bringing the sensitive subject to the wider American
audience through this TV special and its accompanying
Since the inception of Talk, Listen, Connect two years ago,
the initiative has grown and evolved, Sesame Workshop's
president and chief executive officer said today.
“[It] has struck a chord, we've noticed, with a military
community in a way that we never could have expected,” Gary
Knell said. “Through this project, we're helping kids and
families unite and find reassurance that they are not alone
in their journey.
“Who would have thought Elmo and Rosita could help these
families find ways to grasp and to cope with their changing
circumstances?” he added.
That's exactly what is happening, however. Sammy Cila, 9,
who participated in the new special with his family, said
the one thing he'd like other military kids to know is there
are other kids going through this, too.
“There's no need to be worried about it,” he said. “It's
actually great [to know] that there's other families that
are going through the same thing.”
Sammy's father, Army Sgt. Sebastian Cila, who was serving in
Iraq when his left arm was severely injured, sang the
primetime program's praises, too.
“I believe it will help families tremendously. I was
thrilled with the project, [and] I think they did a great
job,” Cila said. “It just kind of gives some insight and
some behind-the-scenes of what families go through with
injuries and disappointments.”
Cila's wife, Anna, agreed. “They did a really nice job
portraying the situations that the families are going
through,” she said. “It's true to my heart that what we saw
today is something good; something really good is going to
come out of it.”
About 800,000 Talk, Listen, Connect kits have been
distributed in the two years of the initiative's existence.
Each contains DVDs and print materials to help military
families cope with different aspects of deployment, change
and even loss.
More than 1.3 million kits have been produced and are being
distributed at no cost to families, schools, family support
programs, hospitals and rehabilitation centers. The kits,
produced in both English and Spanish, also are available for
download from the
Sesame Street Web site.