WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- In 2006, Sesame Workshop launched a groundbreaking, bilingual (English/Spanish), multiphase, multimedia initiative for young children and their military families called "Talk, Listen, Connect (TLC)."

The initiative was born from a strong and singular hope - to recognize the thousands of American children and families who know all too well what it's like to see a loved one go off to war.

Kauai native and 38-year military spouse Patricia Shinseki returned to Hawaii as keynote speaker for the Army-hosted Joint Spouses Conference in October, and she spoke about the innovative initiative and collaboration with the Sesame Street Workshop to create the TLC series.

Q: How did the collaboration begin'
A: "Sesame Street conceived of the idea of doing something for young children who were being affected by deployments, and about family service members returning with injuries.

What Sesame Street produces is a wonderful public service, because I think young children can connect with Sesame ... who can't love Elmo'"

Q: What has your involvement been with the Sesame Street series'

A: "I've been involved in all three productions of the 'Talk, Listen and Connect' series.

The first of which is on helping families with deployment; the second is on helping families through changes, when a parent returns injured or ill; and the third, which is not yet complete, is on if a parent dies."

Q: Is there any message you would like to convey as families prepare to watch these episodes'

A: "Yes, I believe what's important is that parents spend time with children before viewing these programs, so they are able to discuss the subject matter.

I think it's very important for families to talk with children about the topic to help children express their feelings or concerns."

Q: Is this a collaboration that you anticipate to continue'

A: "I certainly believe so; the Sesame Street Workshop continues to come up with wonderful new ways to connect with children, one of the newest, of course, being a safe way for children to keep connected with a deployed parent.

They have a wonderful Web site called 'Sesame Street Family Connections' (www.sesamestreetfamilyconnections.org), which is available for children to use and express their feelings with the parent that is deployed. The site is offered in Spanish and English."

The Sesame Street Workshop series "Stop, Listen, Connect" can be seen daily on Army installation channel TV2.

(Editors Note: Patricia Shinseki is the wife of current director of Veterans Affairs and former Chief of Staff of the Army, retired Gen. Eric Shinseki. Information from the Sesame Workshop's Web site, www.sesameworkshop.org, was used in this article.)