Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Having given generations of shy kids someone to identify with (think Snuffleupagus) and cranky kids a way to laugh at themselves (Oscar the Grouch), Sesame Workshop is now tackling a new challenge: helping children of military families adjust to having a parent deployed at war.

Two years ago, the Workshop, the nonprofit behind "Sesame Street," produced DVDs designed to help youngsters deal with complex feelings of worry, abandonment and pride about their absent mothers or fathers.

Today the workshop will announce the next phase in its military outreach initiative, this one aimed at children ages 2 through 5 whose parents are being sent back to war for a second or third deployment, or who have returned wounded from it.

Sesame Workshop President Gary E. Knell will unveil details of the bilingual multimedia program, titled "Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes," at Arlington National Cemetery's Women in Military Service gateway.

Knell will be joined by "Sesame Street" stars Elmo and Rosita as well as the Padillas, a military family featured in "Talk, Listen, Connect."

Discussing the mental health aspects will be Army Col. Loree K. Sutton, director of the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, and retired Army Col. Stephen J. Cozza, a professor of psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

-- Garance Franke-Ruta

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