WIESBADEN, Germany - The usual faces and a few more showed up to the regular weekly play group at Texas Strasse.

This time, the likes of Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, Bert, Ernie, Big Bird and the Cookie Monster greeted toddlers and parents as the door opened to the usual Friday play place.

Army Community Service held the grand opening of its Sesame Room after a short ribbon cutting ceremony June 10 at the location in Hainerberg Housing.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this to our parents and kids,” said Col. Jeffrey Dill, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, adding that the room was another service offered to families that fulfills the promises of the Army Family Covenant. “It’s another little thing that adds to giving back to them.”

As the toddlers spilled into the room they went right to playing and enjoying the variety of toys, books, and fare in the theme of Sesame Street " the popular, long- running PBS television show.

The room is the first of its type to be offered in Europe. The Family Advocacy Program staff submitted an application package explaining why they should be selected to receive the $5,000 Sesame Street makeover.

“It was kind of like Christmas,” said LaTasha Hinson, New Parent Support home visitor, who said the write-up showcased the various playgroups and other services available to community families through the Family Advocacy Program, New Parent Support element.

The makeover included books, stickers, toys, educational materials, DVDs, musical instruments, stuffed animals, carpet and furniture.

The Directorate of Public Works also pitched in. Not only did the organization paint the walls, but also matched the paint sample of the special pastel green that colored the once white walls.

“I think it’s great,” said Kelly Salter, who was accompanying her son Sam and raved about the new decor and rewards of the play group. “It gives us another atmosphere to play in. So coming once a week is like it’s something new every time. Home gets boring.”

Though the morning was buzzing with newness, it did not distract the tiny tots from the business of the day " playtime.

“Lucas loves it,” said Lisa Serrano, whose son was drawn to the colorful array of balloons. “This is a great environment for him; just to have other kids around, he enjoys it.”
And while the playgroup is focused on the children, the adults enjoy the additional benefits it offers.

“It’s kind of a freedom for (parents) because it’s a childproof environment,” said Salter. “You don’t have to constantly chase him.”

“I get to interact with other moms and get advice,” said Serrano. “This is a great support system. I get to meet new people often. It helps me out a lot.”

The play group is held weekly from 10-11:30 a.m. for children 12 months to 3 years old on a first-come, first-served basis. The Sesame Room is also opened to the Newborn Network twice monthly on Wednesday. The FAP also offers the Rain or Shine outdoor playgroup in Hainerberg Housing.

Community members can also visit the location to pick up a free copy of the Sesame Street DVD, “Talk, Listen, Connect.” The video focuses on military families and encourages healthy communication between parents and children.

Contact New Parent Support at mil 335-5330 or civ (0611) 4080-330 for more information.

Page last updated Tue June 28th, 2011 at 02:02