WIESBADEN, Germany - When Elmo talks, children listen. It's as simple as that.
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Connecting to the youngest members of the American forces families through a familiar red Muppet, organizers of the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families are taking the Sesame Street friends on a tour of 22 U.S. military installations in Europe, Alaska and Hawaii.
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The 2009 tour stopped off in U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden for two shows Sept. 25.
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Performances by Sesame Street characters Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Zoe and Rosita moved more than 1,000 preschoolers to song and dance.
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"Do you ever feel sad, like when you miss your mommy or daddy'" Elmo asked.
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In response, rows of children seated on the Wiesbaden Fitness Center floor shook their heads in unison.
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As the characters finished their choreographed routines, 5-year-old Chamara Etheredge giggled and danced while her mother, Lori, sat nearby.
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"My daughter loves Sesame Street," said Lori Etheredge, whose husband is with 5th Signal Command. Though Etheredge said deployment isn't something she's worried about, she did already own a copy of the Sesame Street "Talk, Listen, Connect" packet.
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From 2006 through July 2009, the Sesame Workshop - the nonprofit educational organization behind the "Sesame Street" show - distributed more than one million copies of its multiphase, bilingual, multimedia packet "Talk, Listen, Connect."
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The packet, which includes two DVDs, magazine, a child's activity poster and Sesame Street post cards, gives advice to military families on how to handle the challenges of deployments, homecomings and changes that occur when a parent comes home.
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The packets along with twirly light toys and USO bandannas were given away for free to all families who attended the free shows.
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"What we bring military children is an opportunity to take a break from their daily challenges," said Lynn Chwatsky, Sesame Workshop's senior director of outreach initiatives and partners, on the Sesame Workshop website.
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"We know how hard it is to be in a military family. We know they're constantly facing transitions, such as getting ready for deployments and homecomings. Some of their moms and dads are on their third or fourth deployment. Some parents are coming home changed. We want to get children singing and dancing," Chwatsky said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16