Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Partners with Sesame Workshop On Military Families Outreach Project

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Partners with Sesame Workshop
On Military Families Outreach Project

Elmo and Friends Help Young Children Cope with Parents Serving in the Armed Services

New York, N.Y., January 17, 2006 – Research shows that 483,514 children of active duty military members and 177,888 children of Reserve and Guard members are less than five years of age.  In response to these facts, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. today announced a major partnership with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street.  Through a donation of nearly $1 million from Wal-Mart, Sesame Workshop will develop an outreach project to help young children of the United States Armed Services, National Guard and Reserves deal with the various stresses of military life.  The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) will also serve as a partner, offering additional support. The announcement was made in Washington, D.C. at the project’s first advisory board meeting moderated by Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Vice President, Content Design for Education, Research and Outreach at Sesame Workshop. 

This project, launching in July, will help military families manage common challenges they face, including the possible stress caused by a parent’s deployment or reunion after a period of absence, frequent relocation and other difficult issues these children face.  The project will enable Sesame Workshop and Wal-Mart to impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of children who have a parent serving in the military by creating DVDs and online and print materials targeted to these children and distributed directly to them.
 
The resources will consist of a bilingual (English/Spanish) kit with a DVD for children and adults starring the Muppets from Sesame Street and a print guide and poster for children, parents and caregivers.  Sesame Workshop will produce and distribute 125,000 of these kits at no cost to schools, child care programs, family support centers and other organizations serving the needs of military families.  A particular emphasis will be made to reach families of the Reserves and National Guard. 

A bilingual Public Service Announcement and online content will also be available.  Wal-Mart and Sesame Workshop will explore additional ways to share the project materials with other organizations and programs that support military families. 

“Wal-Mart has a long history of supporting our troops and their families.  We are proud to be part of a program that will provide important resources to the children of our servicemen and servicewomen, who bravely serve our country and defend our freedom,” said Betsy Reithemeyer, Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Executive Director of the Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB Foundation.  “Wal-Mart is committed to honoring and supporting these individuals each and every day and we are proud to be part of a project that takes a holistic approach to helping the entire family.”

According to Sesame Workshop’s President and CEO Gary E. Knell, “Sesame Workshop has never turned away from the tough issues affecting children.  Addressing the needs of the children of military families is a natural extension of the work we are doing around issues of respect and understanding and coping with emotions.”  Knell continued, “With Wal-Mart and the New York State Office of Mental Health’s shared commitment to supporting families, we look forward to giving military children and caregivers tools and resources to help them cope with their challenging situation.”

"Whether children are worried about moving to a new home or school or a parent’s deployment, being a child in a military family represents a unique emotional challenge for today’s youth," said Commissioner Sharon E. Carpinello, R.N., Ph.D. "OMH is proud to have been invited to play a role in this important initiative with Sesame Workshop and Wal-Mart."

The project’s advisory board, which consists of leading experts in child development, mental health and programs supporting military families, will inform and guide Sesame Workshop on all aspects of the project.  They will also help to determine the needs and challenges of children in military families, less than five years of age, and help guide the development of age-appropriate and effective content for the program.  In addition, Sesame Workshop will conduct focus groups with members of military families who have young children to test the key messages and information provided by the advisory board.

Participants in the project advisory board include:

  • Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr., USMC (Ret), Retired Major General, U.S. Marine Corp., former NASA astronaut, CEO, JACK and PANTHER LLC
  • Col. Stephen J. Cozza, M.D., COL, U.S. Army, Chief, Department of Psychiatry, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Associate Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Child and Family Programs, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
  • Amy Goyer, Manager, Grandparent Information Center, AARP Foundation
  • Mary Keller, Ed.D., Executive Director, Military Child Education Coalition
  • Sylvia E.J. Kidd, Director, Family Programs, Association of the United States Army (AUSA)
  • Michael L. López, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Center for Latino Child & Family Research
  • Patty Shinseki, Advisory board member, Military Child Education Coalition, Amputee Patient Care Program at Walter Reed Medical Center, Citizen-Soldier Support Program
  • Jean Silvernail, Ed.D., Chief, Military Child in Transition & Deployment, Department of Defense, Military Community and Family Policy
  • Janice R. Witte, Director, Office of Children and Youth, Department of Defense, Military Community and Family Policy

This project will be based on the acclaimed Sesame Workshop initiative, You Can Ask!, which was developed in response to September 11, 2001.  You Can Ask! was funded by FEMA in collaboration with the New York State Office of Mental Health.  You Can Ask! uses the familiar and beloved Sesame Street characters to encourage children to cope with stressful situations and offers information for parents and caregivers on how to identify signs of stress and foster communication with their children. 

About Sesame Workshop
Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit educational organization making a meaningful difference in children’s lives around the world.  Founded in 1968, the Workshop changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street.  Today, the Workshop continues to innovate on behalf of children in 120 countries, using its proprietary research methodology to ensure its programs and products are engaging and enriching.  Sesame Workshop is behind award-winning programs like Dragon Tales and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat, Pinky Dinky Doo and ground breaking multimedia productions in South Africa, Egypt and Russia.  As a nonprofit, Sesame Workshop puts the proceeds it receives from sales of Sesame Street, Dragon Tales and Sagwa products right back into its educational projects for children around the world.  Find the Workshop online at www.sesameworkshop.org.

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAM’S CLUB locations in the United States.  The company also operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom.  The company’s securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT. More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting www.walmartfacts.com

More information about the Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB Foundation or other military projects can be found at www.walmartfacts.com

More information about the Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB Foundation or other military projects can be found at www.walmartfacts.com or www.walmartfoundation.org.

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