By Guest Blogger Christine Murray, PhD, LCMHC, LMFT, Director of the Healthy Relationships Initiative in the UNCG Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships
Last month, I got to go somewhere that I never even could have dreamed would be possible when I was a little girl: Sesame Street! Now, those of you who are big Sesame Street fans probably know that there’s now an actual intersection in New York City that has been renamed Sesame Street, and we did go by there (It’s right outside the headquarters of Sesame Workshop). But, even more exciting than that was the opportunity to visit and tour the actual Sesame Street studio!
Most of my childhood memories of Sesame Street are filled with things like sunny days and rubber duckies. But on the day we were visiting the studio, Big Bird and Elmo were singing about something a lot more serious: Gun violence.
My fellow visitors from Guilford County—Victoria Vample from Guilford Child Development and Barbara Frye from the United Way of Greater High Point—and I weren’t surprised or disappointed by this sensitive topic being covered. In fact, it was the reason we were there.
You see, for the past several years, Guilford County has been an official partner with Sesame Street in Communities, and so we knew how Sesame Street has been developing an extensive set of resources that are designed to use the power of the Sesame Street characters we all know and love to help young children and their families navigate difficult life experiences.
Sesame Street in Communities is an initiative of Sesame Workshop and was designed to continue the mission of creating smarter, stronger, and kinder children by providing the caring adults in their lives with free tools and resources focused on ABCs and 123s, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, and Tough Topics.
Our visit to Sesame Street was part of an All-Partner meeting with the other communities across the country that have similar partnerships with Sesame Street in Communities, and so the fun of visiting the studio was balanced with the serious work of learning how their resources are being used across the country to help children face challenges like parental divorce, substance abuse, and incarceration, as well as trauma and community violence.
We’re very fortunate in Guilford County to have this partnership with Sesame Street in Communities, which—in addition to our UNCG-based Healthy Relationships Initiative, Guilford Child Development, and the United Way of High Point—also includes the Guilford County Partnership for Children and Ready for School, Ready for Life. However, anyone, from any community, can access their online resources through their website at sesamestreetincommunities.org.
Today, as families everywhere are grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and all the related stress and changes it’s producing, there are many resources that Sesame Street in Communities offers to help young children and their families through this difficult time. In fact, our friends at Sesame Street have even set up a special section of their website called Caring for Each Other that’s packed with resources to specifically address this crisis, including a Virtual Hug from Elmo!
You can check out all of the other topics they cover here. Below are just a few examples of the other resources that may be especially helpful right now:
- Traumatic experiences: This is one of my favorite sets of resources, because children can experience a lot of difficult life situations as traumatic. Be sure to check out the Comfy Cozy Nest game, which is a great way to help children think through how they might set up a safe, comfortable spot in where they can go when they feel overwhelmed.
- Resilience: We all need to build our resilience to make it through this time of crisis. There are a lot of great resources in this section, but be sure to check out the Communicating Through Feelings videos for helping kids manage big emotions.
- Offering comfort: This topic area includes tools for offering comfort and support to children facing difficult experiences. For example, you could download the free printable, Circle of Care, to help children remember all the people who care for them and who are there to help them face difficult times.
- You Matter Most: This Collection offers self-care resources for parents. During this extremely stressful time, it’s important for parents to prioritize their own well-being so they can bring the best version of themselves to their parenting. I love all the resources in this section, but one of my personal favorites is the It’s All About You app that offers parents important reminders to practice self-care throughout the day.
In addition, as parents look for resources to help with home schooling their young children during this time of social distancing, Sesame Street in Communities also offers many resources on topics like nutrition, physical activity, and school readiness. Many of the resources are very interactive, and a lot of different types of resources are available, such as digital story books, tip sheets for parents, and videos.
For many parents, it’s tough talking with children about life’s difficult experiences. However, the resources available from Sesame Street in Communities offer valuable tools to help young children and parents understand and talk about these challenging experiences. During this time of a scary global crisis, we can look to our friends Big Bird, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and all of the other Muppets for a little bit of extra care and support to make it through this time.
Our Healthy Relationships Initiative (HRI) team is excited to partner with Triad Moms on Main on this blog series. In this series, we offer general guidance to relationship or family questions submitted by TMoM community members. If you’ve got a question to ask, please share it anonymously on the form here.
Lead photo: Standing among the Sesame Street friends, the humans in this picture are (L-R) Christine Murray of the UNCG Healthy Relationships Initiative, Victoria Vample from Guilford Child Development, and Barbara Frye from United Way of Greater High Point.
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