In 2006, Sesame Workshop launched a groundbreaking, bilingual (English/Spanish), multi-phase, multimedia initiative for young children and their military families called Talk, Listen, Connect. The initiative was born from a strong and singular hope—to recognize the thousands of American children and families who know all too well what it’s like to see a loved one go off to war. Now, three years later, Talk, Listen, Connect aims to provide support and significant resources for military families with children between the ages of two and five who are experiencing the effects of deployment, multiple deployments, and combat-related injuries.
When Sesame Workshop first began work on Talk, Listen, Connect, the need to connect with military families was startlingly clear. The research team at Sesame Workshop had recently discovered that despite the staggering number of children whose parents or siblings had been deployed, there were very few resources to help children and families through the difficult transitions that a job in the military requires. It is often said that when a parent or sibling is deployed, the entire family is deployed.
“As macho as you think you are, that you’re a U.S. soldier and a fighting machine, this particular fight, you can’t do alone, you need that family,” said a father and U.S. veteran during a television shoot for Talk, Listen, Connect.
To tackle this difficult topic, Sesame Workshop sought out experts to help design a program that could speak to military families using the power of media and the beloved Sesame Street characters. An advisory board consisting of leaders in child development and mental health, joined forces to guide the initiative’s direction and development. The outreach team at Sesame Workshop spent countless hours face-to-face with military families in an effort to understand the current situation of their lives, and the ways Sesame Workshop could provide coping strategies for the challenges they face.