Sesame Street educates Misawa children
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The United Services Organizations and Sesame Street teamed up to bring the furry and friendly Muppets to the Misawa Civic Center in Misawa City, Japan, Aug. 10 and 11.
Visiting more than 45 overseas military bases, the Muppets performed two different shows depicting military life and the stressors associated with it.
"Sometimes it's hard for children to verbalize how they're feeling through tough times," said Anna Davis, 35th Force Support Squadron community center director. "This show was designed to help children express their emotions and relate to others."
The two current shows are named "Katie is Moving to a New Base," which debuted in 2011, and "Katie's Family Transitions to Civilian Life," performed for the first time this year.
Katie, a military child, was introduced by first lady Michelle Obama and second lady Jill Biden as one of Elmo's friends in April 2011. She helps children understand the changes that can result from being in a military family.
"The show itself grew out of a DVD series," said Nicole McClendon, USO tour manager. "The USO and Sesame Street had such great success with it, so they started a live show for our military families in 2008."
In the first show, Katie is sad because she has to move to a new military base with her family. Katie's Sesame Street friends help her keep a positive attitude by highlighting the benefits of relocating, such as making new friends and going on a new adventure.
The second show displays the effect on a child transitioning out of military life. According to McClendon, the show was implemented to assist the children of the 1 million U.S. military personnel who have and will exit the military between 2011 and 2016.
"We constantly keep the show fresh to meet the changing needs of our military families," said McClendon.
Each performance lasted 35 minutes and was designed for children ages one to six, featuring singing and dancing.
"The USO-Sesame Street team executes the show in the best way for children," said Davis. "It is very engaging with bright costumes and lovable characters kids already know."
The idea of coping with inevitable change was brought to a child's level of understanding to make for an effective performance for more than 500,000 military families through 933 shows on 147 military bases in 33 states and 11 countries.
"Transitioning is a great message for kids to understand whether in the military or not," said Rebecca Rooks, spouse of Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Rooks, Navy Munitions Command East Asia Division Unit Misawa weapons team member. "The show lets them know they will be ok no matter what happens."
Visit http://www.uso.org/sesame to find more information about the tour and future show schedules.