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What if Elmo Explained Deployment to Kids - Well He Does


By: LIFELines

The Sesame Street Workshop has produced a video product to help parents or loved ones explain military deployment to young children. Elmo, one of Sesame Street’s most beloved characters is the spokesman.

Free copies of the DVD called “Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Military Families During Deployment” is available to military families and may be downloaded from the Internet at the Sesame Workshop (http://archive.sesameworkshop.org/tlc/).

As military families know, explaining deployment to small children is about as hard as talking about death or divorce.  When a parent suddenly disappears, for whatever reason, kids don’t understand.  Explanations that are complete and truthful are always too complicated.  As a result, the Military Child Education Coalition, in conjunction with the New York State office of Mental Health teamed with Elmo to say it right.

The program was produced in partnership with and funded by Wal-Mart at a cost of $1.5 million.

“Our goal is to really get military families with young children ... to talk about the different stages of deployment with their children, not only talk about it but prepare them for it,” said Jeanette Betancourt, vice president of content design at Sesame Workshop, which produces Sesame Street.

Moses Rogers, a Navy reservist and father of two, participated in the program. He said being part of the DVD project made him think about deployments in a new light.

“I think the lesson that I got personally was, separating from your family is really hard, but if you communicate that is good.”

Rogers says his best advice to parents is, “Talk to your children. Let them know what’s going on. Let them know that you’re going somewhere to help somebody.”