Sunny days aren’t the only reason to visit Sesame Street. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the popular children’s show, announced a new initiative focusing on military caregivers.
Sesame Street initially created specialized resources for military families in 2006. The overwhelming response sent a clear message that there was a need for programming to help children cope with deployment. Since then, famous characters like Elmo have helped kids navigate key areas of military life, such as deployments, homecomings and relocation.
Supporting military caregivers
There are currently 5.5 million caregivers of former or current military personnel in the U.S. today, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Of these caregivers, 96% of them are “female and 70% provide care to their spouse or partner.” However, Sesame Street states, “Despite the growing numbers of families in caregiving roles, very few resources exist to help little ones understand the changes caregiving can bring to their day-to-day lives.”
Military caregivers often provide round-the-clock care for family members who — after coming home from deployment — suffer from visible or invisible injuries, including post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury or physical wounds. It can be challenging for children to understand why mom or dad — finally home from deployment — has less patience, becomes easily irritated, and is not her or his usual self anymore. On the same token, it is not easy for mom or dad to parent the way they used to before deployment while having to be taken care of by a caregiver.
So how can children adapt to their new normal?
The latest Sesame Street initiative uses simple and accessible weather-related language that allows children to make the connections between sunny days to positive and happy behavior, cloudy days to challenging behavior, and stormy days to troubling and worrisome behavior.
Coming together for military families
The multimedia campaign is a three-way partnership between Sesame Workshop, USAA, and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which was created 13 years ago after well-known journalist Bob Woodruff was injured while covering the Iraq War.
“The Bob Woodruff Foundation is proud to work together with Sesame Workshop to serve military caregiving families, so those families have the support they need to thrive after service,” Anne Marie Doughterty, chief executive officer of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, said.
The tool was specifically designed for all ages.
“USAA is here for military families through all of life’s major events,” said Stuart Parker, CEO of USAA. “We are grateful to Sesame Workshop for creating resources that help kids and parents feel strong and supported in the everyday challenges they face.”
The new program offers different activities, including some with familiar faces:
- Three videos starring Rosita – a familiar face from Sesame Street – along with her mother and her 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.
The new Sesame Street for Military Families: Caregiving resources are free to families in English and Spanish.