Silver Spring, MD, Nov. 30, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

Military parents have unique challenges. Along with the usual responsibilities of any parent or caregiver, military parents also have to deal with frequent relocations, shifting support networks and complicated family emotions around deployment and homecoming.

New content on the Sesame Street for Military Families website, which features the beloved Sesame Street Muppets, is designed to help military families with preschool children stay healthy together and create fun and meaningful birthday traditions.

The website is a joint project with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street, and the Defense Department’s Defense Health Agency (DHA).

“By prioritizing physical and emotional wellness, families can help military kids flourish,” said Kelly Blasko, a counseling psychologist leading the mobile web program within DHA’s Connected Health Branch. She is also the program lead for the Sesame Street for Military Families initiative.

“Even in little moments like preparing a meal or celebrating a birthday, families can foster communication and closeness, model healthy choices and help little ones adjust to new routines, preparing a solid foundation for challenges big and small – and the new resources we’ve created with Sesame Workshop can help,” said Blasko.

New content on the website includes videos and activities, and focuses on:

Family Health & Wellness. Bolstering overall health and wellness helps military families navigate an often-challenging set of circumstances. This section has resources for both parents and children on how to stay physically and emotionally healthy as a family, including:

  • Kid-facing videos on staying healthy starring the Sesame Street Muppets
  • Printable coloring pages for kids about health and wellness
  • Comfy Cozy Nest, an interactive activity with Big Bird that helps children imagine a calm, safe place of their very own
  • Articles for parents and caregivers about positivity and mindfulness, healthy eating and staying active as a family

Birthdays. While birthdays can be wonderful fun for military families, they can also be tough — especially if a parent or family member is away from home on the child’s special day. Resources in this section, which help families start new traditions and create memorable birthday moments even when everyone can’t be together, include:

  • Kid-facing videos on celebrating birthdays starring the Sesame Street Muppets, customised with messages for military families
  • Printable coloring pages and birthday party games
  • Digital activities that let kids decorate virtual cakes, and make and send gifts and ecards.
  • Tips for parents and caregivers on creating new birthday traditions, celebrating when a parent is away and using birthday celebrations to help children adjust to a new place

“Birthdays are a big deal for every child, and it can be a challenge when a parent is absent,” said Blasko. “We really wanted to provide suggestions for military parents and caregivers on how they can make that day special for kids.”

All Sesame Street for Military Families content is guided by Sesame Workshop’s research with military families and their health care providers, in addition to their expertise about how children learn best. Materials are reviewed by a team of psychologists who make sure they meet the needs of a military audience with young children.

Accessible from computers, smartphones and tablets, the website also offers resources for parents and other caregivers. A free Sesame Street for Military Families app, through which families can access all the new content and more, is available from the iTunes App Store, Google Play Store and the Amazon Appstore.

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