’Sesame Street’ Deployment Show Nominated for Emmy

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 27, 2007) - A television special that looks closely at challenges military Families face when a parent is deployed has been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program.

Defense Department officials were thrilled to hear the program, called "When Parents Are Deployed" and produced by Sesame Workshop, received such recognition.

"We were delighted to hear of the Emmy nomination of Sesame Workshop's 'When Parents Are Deployed,'" said Leslye A. Arsht, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and Family policy. "For those who are not part of the military Family, the impact of deployments and how Families cope may be difficult to understand.

"The program … helps bridge that gap in powerful ways and - to borrow a phrase from 'Sesame Street' - it shows that a servicemember and his or her Family are 'people in your neighborhood,'" she added.

Of course, the program's creators were ecstatic about the recognition, as well. "It was really very exciting just to hear about it and the fact that it was nominated," said Jeanette Betancourt, the vice president for outreach and educational practices at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind "Sesame Street."

The primetime special, hosted by actor Cuba Gooding Jr., evolved from the Sesame Workshop's initial outreach initiative, "Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment." The DVD was created and distributed to military Families with the help of Wal-Mart and Military OneSource.

Military OneSource is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, toll-free information and referral telephone service, as well as a supporter of the America Supports You network. America Support You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their Families serving at home and abroad.

"What started to happen is that a lot of Families started to really open up to us," Ms. Betancourt said. "We had that sudden awareness that there was so much more that we can do. As a result, we created a separate primetime special through PBS."

"When Parents Are Deployed," geared toward parents, depicts the challenges of military Families enduring deployments through the stories of those who have been there, some more than once. The program originally aired Dec. 29, 2006, on PBS and will continue to air periodically for two years from that date. PBS has scheduled the next airings for July 29 and Aug. 2.

"Its intent was for both military Families, as well as the general public, to understand … the challenges as well as the dedication military Families have during this time of deployment," Ms. Betancourt said.

The program offers strategies for coping with the different stages of deployment. For example, some of the military parents who shared their stories also shared how they prepare their children for deployment.

A clip from the "Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment," DVD also appears in the primetime special. It shows how Elmo, a popular fuzzy, red Sesame Street character, and his dad, who is preparing to deploy, will keep up special routines while they're apart.

"This topic of military Families and how they are impacted is so relevant right now. We're glad that we're able to at least fulfill a niche that I think was missing for quite a long time," Ms. Betancourt said.

She added that the military community responded very positively to the program.

"When Parents Are Deployed" is keeping good company as a primetime Emmy nominee. The Hallmark Channel's original movie "The Christmas Card" also received a nomination. The movie tells of a soldier who is home on leave visiting a small town where he falls for the woman who wrote an anonymous Christmas card that buoyed his morale while he was deployed overseas.

The Hallmark Channel is a corporate supporter of the America Supports You program.

(Samantha L. Quigley writes for the American Forces Press Service.)