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Sesame Street offers resources for military families

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Military families having trouble adjusting to a family member's deployment have a new resource to help those with school-age children with the transition.

Sesame Street and The Electric Company unveiled a new collection of resources for military families last month at a launch celebration at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. The materials, produced by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street and The Electric Company, are designed to help elementary school-aged children and families stay connected and communicate during times of change and uncertainty.

In cooperation with the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, these new resources include FamiliesNearAndFar.org, a free bilingual website designed for military families; Feel Electric, a free mobile app that encourages children to explore and express their emotions; The Electric Company Magazine Special Edition for Military Families; and The Electric Company Extended Learning Program, an after school tool kit for educators, filled with literacy and math-based lesson plans, games, activities and tips.

Officials stared distributing content in November through multiple military channels, including Department of Defense Education Activity Educational Partnership Program, Boys & Girls Clubs of America-affiliated Youth Centers and other programs that support military families.

To date, Sesame Street's military families initiative has provided significant resources for military families with preschool children experiencing the effects of deployments, when a parent returns home changed because of a combat-related injury and coping with the death of a loved one. With the help of The Electric Company, this new phase expands efforts to reach elementary school kids, 6 to 9 years old, find the right words to express their emotions as they experience difficult military transitions.

"Sesame Street and The Electric Company are thrilled to introduce Military Families Near and Far, which expands our Military Families Initiative to elementary school children and their parents," H. Melvin Ming, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, said in a release. "During this month of the military family, I can't think of a better way to renew our commitment to military families and to let them know we care and are here to help."

FamiliesNearAndFar.org lets families create a network to post messages, create artwork, upload photos and record video greetings. The mobile app Feel Electric (available at the App Store) features emotion vocabulary mini games and helps children express how they're feeling with an interactive "Moodosphere." The magazine offers writing and drawing activities that get kids thinking, writing and talking about their feelings.

"The latest addition to the Sesame Street materials for military families, Military Families Near and Far, is a tremendous resource for our military families," added Navy Capt. Paul S. Hammer, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury director. "These new tools will continue to help parents and kids connect, share, thrive and learn different ways to become more resilient as a military family."

For more information, visit the website or email militaryfamilies@sesame.org.

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