By Elaine Wilson, AFPS
April 14, 2010
I attended a touching preview of Sesame Workshop’s newest outreach initiative, “When Families Grieve,” yesterday at the Pentagon.
Military leaders, including Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were joined by Sesame stars Elmo, Rosita and Elmo’s cousin Jesse to unveil the initiative, which provides free resources in support of families with young children coping with the death of a parent.
“Elmo, Rosita and Jesse help us reach children in ways that they can understand,” Lynn said. “They also show adults how to reassure their children that they are safe and loved.”
Mullen thanked Sesame Workshop for addressing “very, very difficult” issues. “As they say, when Elmo talks, children listen,” he said.
The initiative launches with the premier of a one-hour primetime special tonight at 8 p.m. ET on PBS. The audience was treated to a special screening of the special at the preview event.
You will recall that I visited Sesame Street last fall to watch the taping of a portion of the special. I blogged about my visit in the posts, “Sesame Workshop Teaches Kids About Loss,” “Top Military Wife Visits Sesame Street,” and “Kids Need Help to Cope With Loss.”
“When Families Grieve” shows how Elmo and his cousin Jesse deal with the loss of Jesse’s father, and also presents four families’ personal stories about coping with the death of a parent, as well as the strategies that helped them move on.
Two of the families are military: one with a parent who died in combat and the other with a parent who committed suicide.
There was hardly a dry eye in the room as the children and parents featured in the special revealed their emotions about their loss and shared tips that helped them move forward.
After the special, Sesame Workshop will roll out nearly 1 million free multimedia kits to families and grief service providers worldwide. The kit includes a DVD featuring the Muppets and the families that experienced loss; print materials, including a parent and caregiver guide; children’s storybook; and a facilitator’s guide to using the project’s components.
The materials will be available online at sesamestreet.org/grief beginning April 15. A customized military family kit also will be available through Military OneSource, beginning April 21.
Sesame Workshop has put out a great resource that deals with a very tough topic. It’s not only helpful to families dealing with loss, but also is a valuable resource for people who know of someone who lost a loved one. I hope you find time to watch the special or check out the materials online. It’s well worth it.
For more information on this initiative, please read my American Forces Press Service article, “Lynn, Mullen Host Sesame Workshop Preview,” or watch the video, “When Families Grieve.” The video is part of Sesame’s Talk, Listen, Connect Initiative. More information is also available from the Sesame Workshop.