MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. -- In a show brought to them by the letter "M" -- for military kids, military families and Madigan -- kids laughed, danced and sang their way through a special Sesame Street show with Abby Cadabby and Nina at the Madigan Medical Mall on July 26.
As a part of their 50th anniversary tour across America, Sesame Street made a special stop at Madigan -- the only visit to a Department of Defense site -- to celebrate its special relationship with military kids and families.
"Military kids are special because they are so strong and brave, especially when their mommies and daddies are away, or when they have to move to a new place," said the Muppet Abby Cadabby before encouraging the audience of pediatric patients and their families to show their superhero poses.
"It was amazing … coming to the doctor gives them so much anxiety that actually coming here for fun is going to mean a lot coming the next time; it won't be as hard. It was great," said Katy Aguirre, who brought two of her six children to the show, including her son Ethan, 8, whose special medical needs brings him to the doctor often. "He definitely loves to dance; music is one of the best medicines for him. If he has music, he can calm down in any situation; he just loves it."
The show placed a special emphasis on support for military families and kids, a group that Sesame Street began developing resources for 13 years ago at sesamestreetformilitaryfamilies.org, said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, the senior vice president of Social Impact at Sesame Workshop.
Betancourt and Madigan's Chief of the Department of Pediatrics Col. (Dr.) Matthew Studer (known to kids in the audience as "Dr. Matt") opened the show with a kid-friendly talk about military family challenges. When kids with special medical needs move, they often experience an extra level of stress, said Studer.
"That transition can be difficult because you have to have a whole new team of doctors and nurses to care for you, and those relationships which are very strong and powerful, have to change and be created anew," he said.
Sesame Street offers resources for military kids and providers alike.
"We started first with a focus on deployment and then subsequently followed a series of homecoming, visible and invisible injuries, we've dealt with grief when a parent does not return, but also other things like relocation, (and) transitioning back into civilian life," said Betancourt, who added that the site will add content around military family caregiving in August.
She shared that Sesame Street chose to visit Madigan because of the two organizations' history together, and the importance of highlighting their military and family work.
"We're here to acknowledge the incredible service that our military families do each and every day, and our gratefulness for that," she said.
Nina wrapped up the event by encouraging the audience to give themselves hugs for being strong and resilient.
"Thank you to all of the families that keep us safe," said Nina.