Written by: Christopher Plein, Ph.D. West Virginia University & MFLN Military Caregiving Concentration
I am a little too old to have watched Sesame Street as a kid. Indeed, my childhood viewing experiences were a mashup of cartoons, monster movies, and sitcoms. My memories align with descriptions of the time that television was a “vast wasteland.” Public concern helped to propel the development of Sesame Street and other innovations in children’s educational programming (think, for example, of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Schoolhouse Rocks) to improve content and programming for kids.
It is not too much to say that Sesame Street is a unique part of our culture. While originally intended for preschool children, especially those without access to educational opportunities, the show’s reach has gone much further. The show is entering its 50th year and its presence extends beyond television to all areas of media. Its educational mission has and remains more than just the “Three R’s” for kids. Sesame Street offers lessons on deep topics relating to caring, compassion, diversity, empathy, inclusion, and social justice that benefit all age groups.
With this in mind, I invite you to check out a recent webinar hosted by the Military Families Learning Network Caregiving Team. At Our Best: Caregiving Today – Kids Serve Too was presented by Antonio Freitas and Sabrina Huda, both who are part of the Sesame Workshop. This non-profit project is affiliated with Sesame Street. It provides online and downloadable resources for children and their families. These resources and others offered can be of great value to professionals and providers as well.
The webinar focused on two initiatives of special interest to military families and those that support them.
The Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC) initiative offers webinars and apps, as well as downloadable activities, games and exercises. In addition to these resources to engage children in learning, there is information relating to a broad array of topics, including dealing interpersonal communications, health conditions, family wellbeing, self-care, and trauma.
The Sesame Workshop is creating even more specific programming for military families through its Sesame Street for Military Families (SS4MF) initiative. As with SSIC, this initiative offers valuable resources for families, caregivers, professionals and providers. To take just one example, SS4MF has produced a short video for kids (and adults) on how to adapt to “changes” that result from injuries, such as those to wounded warriors. Providers, professionals and caregivers may want to check out an overview video of SS4MF programming that encourages viewers to “watch, ask, and share” available resources.
So while I may have been a little too old for Sesame Street as a kid, I am not too old for Sesame Street as an adult. There is a treasure trove of resources to tap into for professionals, providers and caregivers. While many of the videos and activities are aimed at kids, like stories and fables that have been handed down over the generations, the lessons are not just for children but for grown-ups as well.