By Melody Everly, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsOctober 13, 2016
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Oct. 13, 2016) -- The basketball court at Magrath Gym was filled with the excited chatter of children wielding twirling, light-up Elmo toys Oct. 11-12 as the crowd eagerly awaited the start of four special shows featuring some of their favorite television characters.
Since its debut in 2008, the Sesame Street / USO Experience for Military Families has toured military installations across the country, providing a free show that addresses some of the challenges that these Families encounter.
Katie, a Muppet who also happens to be a military Family Member, was created exclusively for the show. She shares her story, "Katie is Moving to a New Base" -- a subject that is all too familiar to military children.
"It seems like every time I feel settled some place, it's time to move … again," she says to friends Elmo, Grover, Rosita and Cookie Monster.
Katie's friends reassure her that, while it can be hard, change can be a good thing. By the end of the show, Katie is feeling much more confident that she will be able to make new friends, while staying in touch with her old friends. As long as she remembers to take things "one step at a time" and be herself, she is sure to do well in her new environment.
While resiliency is extremely important for military Family Members of all ages, the Muppets help to drive the message home -- especially for young children, said Hal Greer, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation at Fort Drum.
"What's special about this show is that anybody can relate to Sesame Street," he said. "When they are talking about moving or deployments and the impact of these challenges, they are talking directly to the children. The children can immediately relate to the characters, so they are able to grasp and understand the message."
In a new show, "Transitions," Katie's father is preparing to transition out of the military. Katie confides in her friends that she is nervous about the changes she will experience as her Family moves away from the lifestyle she knows. Once again, her Muppet friends are there to assure her that change can be a good thing, and that she is sure to have a lot of positive experiences in this chapter of her life.
With the constant state of change that exists in today's military, this new story is especially important for young Family Members, said Karen Clark, USO Fort Drum director.
"What our Soldiers do for our country is amazing, but they don't do it in isolation," she said. "They have loved ones who are supporting them, and there is a burden that comes with that. Sesame Street coming to talk to the children about that -- about how tough it can be on the whole Family to transition out of the military and letting them know that they care about them and understand what is going on -- it's absolutely fantastic."
As the show moves on to other installations, sharing these presentations with thousands of military members and their Families, Clark said that she is already looking forward to seeing their return.
"Sesame Street and the USO are honored to be able to provide such a wonderful show -- one that Families look forward to -- each year," she said.