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New Sesame military special to air December 27

Sesame Workshop expands Military Families Initiative with a primetime special, "When Parents are Deployed" hosted by Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. and premiering December 27 at 9 pm eastern on PBS

Courtesy of Sesame Workshop
December 15, 2006

Elmo learns about deployment from his parents.
With more than 700,000 children of military families under the age of five separated from their mother or father this holiday season Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, has responded with a program geared to address the challenges military families face with deployment.

The half-hour television special, entitled When Parents are Deployed, will be hosted by Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr., premiering Wednesday, December 27 at 9pm ET/PT on PBS (check local listings).

Sesame Workshop recently launched a partnership with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, with additional support from The New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH) and Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), to create an educational outreach program titled, Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment.

The program was created to assist the children of the military cope with the enormous separation anxiety they face when a parent is called to duty. A total of 385,000 Talk, Listen, Connect kits will be distributed. The entire kit is also available on-line at www.sesameworkshop.org/tlc. The website also provides a music clip of the song "Proud" sung by Elmo and his dad. This clip can be sent electronically to a loved one accompanied by a special text message.

While interviewing the military families who were included in Talk, Listen, Connect, Sesame Workshop producers were continually impressed by the families' selflessness and sense of duty. Out of this admiration and respect came the idea to make their stories available for all Americans to see. With funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Sesame Workshop created When Parents Are Deployed, geared to military parents and caregivers.

When Parents Are Deployed reveals candid and intimate moments with the parents, caregivers and children impacted by deployment. They express how they are coping with the daily stress and fears associated with having a parent depart for military duty, and how families deal with that member when they return home after serving their country. As the holidays can be a very difficult time for military families, Sesame Workshop saw this special as way to illustrate how this group of Americans is managing during times of extended separation.

The half-hour television special, entitled When Parents are Deployed, will be hosted by Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr.
"The overwhelming response that we received to the Talk, Listen Connect outreach program confirmed to us that we were indeed fulfilling an unmet need for the youngest members of our military families," said Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary E. Knell. "We also felt that it was important to reach as many adult caregivers as possible with this valuable information. We are grateful to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for acknowledging our goals with their generous funding of the television special When Parents Are Deployed."

"Military families give so much to community and country," said Patricia Harrison, CPB President and CEO. "The demands of military life can be especially hard on children who are separated from their Mom and Dad during the holiday season. CPB is proud to help our troops and their families through our support of When Parents Are Deployed."

When Parents Are Deployed was made possible by CPB and portions of the special were contributed by Wal-Mart as part of their support of Talk, Listen, Connect.

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