By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
The 2016 Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families tour has been in full effect since July, and it recently stopped by my home installation, Fort Meade. So I figured, since some of you might be interested in taking your kids someday, why not check it out?
Believe it or not, the Sesame Street tour is the longest running entertainment tour in USO history, having debuted in 2008.
Video: Sesame Street Show Looks at Transition
The shows are meant to help military kids and their parents deal with unique challenges. In past years, they focused on deployments and homecomings, but now they’re more geared toward big moves and the transition to civilian life. Each installation gets to decide which shows perform on their base, depending on the needs of the families there.
I attended the show called “Katie’s Family Transitions to Civilian Life,” about a military kid named Katie who’s dealing with her family transitioning out of the services. It’s a relevant topic for many military families.
“The kids come and get to see somebody just like them up on stage going through something that they might be going through,” said tour manager Nicole McClendon. “They don’t even realize they’re learning anything because they’re having a good time.”
While the shows are for kids ages 1-6, many of them are too young to really take in what it’s all about. So really, the content is for the parents.
“It gives them an opportunity to pick up some talking points or icebreakers – ways to get that conversation started,” McClendon said.
Kids bopped and hopped around with their lighted Elmo spinners and USO bandannas. Some also cried … but that happens sometimes. Overall, the kids really seemed to be captivated by the characters, and the parents were happy to get some useful information on how to help their children with the transition.
“Everybody loves it,” McClendon said. “It spreads a little bit of happiness.”
The 30-minute shows are free to military personnel and their families. You can check out the tour schedule on the USO’s website.
Sesame Workshop has partnered with the Defense Department for years to bring helpful content to military families through its website and several free apps. To check them out, click here.
Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.