If your early childhood took place around the same time mine did (let’s just call it the early 80s), you probably remember how huge Sesame Street was in your life. Out of the three channels we had, it was on the one that wasn’t showing the news.
Almost all of my life skills were gained from Sesame Street. I learned the alphabet one episode at a time, and I still count to 12 in the rhythm of that pinball bouncing around. The show even taught me how to live in a trash can and eat cookies in a horrifyingly violent manner. All traits that have served me well in life.
Over the past five years, Sesame Street has combined with the USO to entertain nearly 250,000 troops and their families in 11 different countries.
If you’re not familiar with the USO, it’s the organization that tries to lift the spirits of military and their families during tough times. They have lounges in nearly every American airport where we can kick back and relax on long layovers. They also bring shows and entertainment to troops all over the world. My personal favorite was having the opportunity to watch a hypnotist while I was in Djibouti.
The Sesame Street/USO Experience Tour has kicked off once again. There’s a new character, Katie, that was developed specifically for this tour. The next stops are on the 25th and 26th of June in a place that I’ve been to more than once, Sigonella Italy. You can see the entire tour schedule here, and more information on the general tour here. This year’s tour focuses on a message that helps kids deal with moving and finding new friends, which is something that military kids deal with all the time.
Did I mention that admission is completely free?
If you’re going to be stationed somewhere along the tour, take the kids for a great show. You can help spread the great message and be entertained all at the same time.
If you can’t make it, or if you’re not even in the military, the USO identifies five things that you can do to help military families. They are all terrific ideas and involve almost no work.
- Volunteer at one of the more than 160 USO locations around the world and discover ways you can take action locally.
- Offer to help a military family on the home front who live on or off base. Whether you see that their lawn needs to be mowed or garbage cans taken in, helping with simple household chores and errands can really relieve some of the stress a family may be feeling.
- Teach your child how they can help support military kids in their school by visiting uso.org/get-involved.aspx and orFacebook.com/SesameStreetforMilitaryFamilies.
- Lend an ear to listen to a military spouse as sometimes just having someone there to vent to or talk to when you may feel all alone can be the greatest support of all.
- Say thank you to a military member and their family for their service, sacrifice and strength. Our troops and their families make sacrifices so we don’t have to and those two simple words say so much.