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USO brings Sesame Street to Andersen AFB

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Elmo, Rosita, Cookie Monster and Grover, all characters from the Sesame Street television show, paid a visit to Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam to perform for military members and their families June 9 and 10.

The United Service Organizations teamed with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization that produces Sesame Street, to bring The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families to the Asia-Pacific region.

"It's a fantastic partnership," said Lonnie Cooper, USO tour manager. "It's a natural thing. Sesame Street has an instant credibility with children and their families and the USO has credibility with the military. When you put those two things together for this kind of program for military families, it is just unprecedented and it's been a real success for us."

Audiences at the shows were introduced to a new character, Katie, a military child relocating to a new home. With the support of Elmo and other Sesame friends, Katie was able to open up about her apprehension and excitement as she dealt with the challenges of adjusting to a new environment and making new friends. The new show also features a 25-minute, high-energy character performance with special giveaways and vital outreach materials for those who attend.

"It's a way for military children to learn how to cope with issues that affect them," Mr. Cooper said. "Who better to discuss it with than characters they have come to trust like Elmo, Cookie Monster or Rosita?"

Andersen mom, Staff Sgt. Whitney Rogers from the 36th Force Support Squadron, believes the Sesame Street characters help kids feel empowered and encourage them to be themselves.

"This show is good for military kids because it lets them know they're not alone," she said. "In this lifestyle, kids move around a lot. They're going to make friends and lose friends, but this show teaches them that you never have to forget the people you meet and to remember that new friends are just around the corner."

Since its inception four years ago, The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families has logged more than 61,200 miles to 90 bases in 33 different states and nine countries. This summer alone the tour will perform more than 120 shows, touching the lives of countless children and military members alike.

"We know family is the core of getting not only our servicemembers through their hardship, but keeping every family unit together," said Leigh Leilani Graham, USO Guam director. "I think it helps the parents just as much as it does the children."