Wal-Mart, Sesame Workshop partner on military families outreach project in the US

MUMBAI: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has entered a partnership with Sesame Workshop wherein the former will donate $1 million to the latter.

Sesame Workshop will develop an outreach project to help young children of the United States Armed Services, National Guard and Reserves deal with the various stresses of military life. The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) will also serve as a partner, offering additional support.

The announcement was made by Sesame Workshop vice president content design for education, research and outreach Dr Jeanette Betancourt.

This project, launching in July, will help military families manage common challenges they face, including the possible stress caused by a parent’s deployment or reunion after a period of absence, frequent relocation and other difficult issues these children face.

The project will enable Sesame Workshop and Wal-Mart to impact the lives of many children who have a parent serving in the military by creating DVDs and online and print materials targeted to these children and distributed directly to them.

The resources will consist of a bilingual (English/Spanish) kit with a DVD for children and adults starring the Muppets from Sesame Street and a print guide and poster for children, parents and caregivers.

Sesame Workshop will produce and distribute 125,000 of these kits at no cost to schools, child care programs, family support centers and other organisations serving the needs of military families.

A particular emphasis will be made to reach families of the Reserves and National Guard. A bilingual public service announcement and online content will also be available. Wal-Mart and Sesame Workshop will explore additional ways to share the project materials with other organizations and programs that support military families.

“Wal-Mart has a long history of supporting our troops and their families. We are proud to be part of a program that will provide important resources to the children of our servicemen and servicewomen, who bravely serve our country and defend our freedom. Wal-Mart is committed to honouring and supporting these individuals each and every day and we are proud to be part of a project that takes a holistic approach to helping the entire family,” said Wal-Mart vice president corporate affairs and executive director Betsy Reithemeyer.

Sesame Workshop president and CEO Gary E Knell said, “Sesame Workshop has never turned away from the tough issues affecting children. Addressing the needs of the children of military families is a natural extension of the work we are doing around issues of respect and understanding and 

coping with emotions. With Wal-Mart and the New York State Office of Mental Health’s shared commitment to supporting families, we look forward to giving military children and caregivers tools and resources to help them cope with their challenging situation.”

The project’s advisory board, which consists of leading experts in child development, mental health and programs supporting military families, will inform and guide Sesame Workshop on all aspects of the project. They will also help to determine the needs and challenges of children in military families, less than five years of age, and help guide the development of age-appropriate and effective content for the program.

In addition, Sesame Workshop will conduct focus groups with members of military families who have young children to test the key messages and information provided by the advisory board.

This project will be based on the acclaimed Sesame Workshop initiative, You Can Ask!, which was developed in response to 11 September, 2001.

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