Talk, Listen, Connect III: When Families Grieve

From Sesame Workshop: “The death of a parent is one of the most challenging things a child can face, and shockingly an estimated 2.5% of children under age 18 have experienced the death of a parent (approximately 2.5 million children)* and on March 10, 2010 TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) estimated that the 5,398 U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan had left 3,779 children without a parent, while 2,669 spouses had been widowed. In response, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, is launching When Families Grieve, an outreach initiative that provides free resources in support of families with young children, in the military and the general public, coping with the death of a parent.

When Families Grieve will launch with the premiere of a one hour primetime television special on PBS featuring Katie Couric and the Sesame Street Muppets airing nationwide on April 14th at 8:00 PM ET/ PT (check local listings). The special, produced by Sesame Workshop, in association with Worldwide Pants Incorporated and Lookalike Productions, will present families’ personal stories about coping with the death of a parent, as well as strategies that have helped these families move forward.

Katie Couric joins Sesame Street Muppets Elmo, Rosita and Jesse, and children who have lost a parent, in planting a tree at Madison Square Park in NYC, to honor those who have passed away as part of a Sesame Workshop outreach initiative, When Families Grieve. PBS will premiere an original special, “When Families Grieve,” on April 14 at 8pm and the free outreach kit, which will also be available online at, will roll-out on April 15. (Photo credit: Sesame Workshop/Gil Vaknin)

Immediately following the special, Sesame Workshop will begin the roll out of close to one million free multimedia kits to families and grief service providers nationwide. Through partnerships with organizations within the military (including The USO) and the general public that already provide services and resources to grieving families, Sesame Workshop will ensure that kits reach those who need them most. Organizational partnerships include Military Services casualty offices, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), childhood grief centers, national nonprofit aid organizations, professional associations, religious communities, foster parents, and others. All materials will also be available online at beginning April 15.

We are proud to support the Talk, Listen, Connect series and hope you’ll watch the PBS special tonight.  And take a moment to learn more about the resources from Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes and The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families, which returns stateside in 2010.

The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families heads stateside PLUS a New Initiative from Sesame Workshop

Young fans embraced their favorite furry red monster during a performance of the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families at RAF Mildenhall in England September 8, 2009. (USO Photo by Fred Greaves)

If you’re a regular blog reader, you’ve probably heard about and seen pictures from The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families tour that travel around the world.  Across nine countries and 76 military bases, thousands of military kids and their parents have enjoyed the performances of Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Rosita and Zoe, beloved characters from the award-winning television series.

We’re thrilled to announce that The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families is back in the U.S. after an around-the-world tour.  The show, which is exclusively for military families, kicks off its second swing through the U.S. on April 17, at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

“There is no denying the positive impact this tour is having on our nation’s military community,” said Sloan Gibson, USO president.  “We listen to our troops and understand the challenges they face at home, and are proud to call Sesame Workshop our partner in helping to ease the daily stresses on military families.”  Bookmark this page for updated tour schedules and more.

The tour serves as an extension of traditional USO entertainment tours and a continuation of Sesame Workshop’s award-winning Talk, Listen, Connect initiative – which provides vital resources and emotional support to military families with young children coping with challenging transitions in their lives.

This partnership has been wonderful for the USO, as well as Sesame Workshop.  In his latest blog post, Sesame Workshop’s President and CEO Gary E. Knell has this to say: “One of the most rewarding parts about being here at Sesame Workshop is the honest ability to make a difference in this world. Five years ago, I was outraged at the lack of resources available to military families. Today, I’m proud that Sesame Street is able to help.”

Now, we’re proud to announce a new installment in this initiative, When Families Grieve, which will kick-off nationally with a one-hour televised special hosted by Katie Couric and airing on PBS stations (check local listings).  Beginning April 15, the multimedia, bi-lingual (English and Spanish) outreach kit will be available at

Outreach kits on the previous three installments of Talk, Listen, Connect are available on their website currently, and continue to make a difference in the lives of military children everywhere.  So set your DVRs, bookmark the website, and take a moment to watch a short video on last’s years unveiling of the “Deployments” kit…

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