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Mission: Family: 2 well-known nonprofits expanding aid to military children

Nov. 25, 2011 - 11:52AM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 25, 2011 - 11:52AM  |  
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About the author

Military Times staff writer Karen Jowers is the wife of a military retiree.

The Sesame Workshop and Boys & Girls Clubs — two nonprofit organizations whose work has provided tangible benefits for military children — are expanding their reach.

Sesame Street's efforts for military families have grown beyond the preschool crowd, through a joint venture with The Electric Company to provide new resources for elementary school-age children and their families.

Boys & Girls Clubs will focus on youths' mental health issues as their parents return from war. They will help distribute "Military Families Near and Far" materials produced by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit education organization behind Sesame Street and The Electric Company.

Sesame Workshop's "Talk, Listen, Connect" series has helped military families with preschool children talk to each other and understand deployments, homecomings and when a parent comes home changed because of injury, as well as coping with the death of a loved one.

Sesame Workshop worked with the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury to develop these new resources; they will be distributed through the Department of Defense Education Activity and Boys & Girls Clubs, and other programs that support military families. http://www.familiesnearandfar.org">It's also available by clicking here.

Among the resources available:

• Feel Electric! is a free mobile app that helps children explore and express their emotions.

• The Electric Company Magazine Special Edition for Military Families, a one-time edition for military kids.

• The Electric Company Extended Learning Program, a set of after-school tools for educators, including literacy and math-based lesson plans, games, activities and tips.

Boys & Girls Clubs' new focus

Boys & Girls Clubs this year is marking its 20th anniversary of providing programs on military bases for kids. It also marks the start of an additional mission to help military children deal with effects of war and deployments, including:

• Training staff to teach kids to be strong and resilient as parents return from deployment, and extending training to families.

• Examining communities around the country to ensure military families have access to services and programs at the nearly 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs that are not on base, with a special focus on families that don't live near installations.

• Training staff members to provide a stronger focus on the children of wounded, ill and injured troops.

Boys & Girls Club programs are in 386 youth centers serving nearly 460,000 military kids. They provide consistent programs ranging from teen leadership groups to fine arts exhibits to add a sense of stability and community for military children.

For more information, http://www.GreatFutures.org">click here.

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