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‘Sesame Street’ helps military families

Local military families should circle March 23 on their calendars.

The American Red Cross Manatee County Chapter has joined with the South /Florida Museum’s Bishop Planetarium to bring a special free screening of “Sesame Street” to military families in the area.

The PBS special, “Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change,” features Queen Latifah, John Mayer and Elmo and tells the story of soldiers coming home with injuries, visible and invisible.

The special explores the heroic struggles families face in trying to discover a “new normal” while saluting the courage and strength that holds these families together.

Produced in association with David Letterman’s production company Worldwide Pants Incorporated and Lookalike Productions, “Coming Home” will be broadcast at 8 p.m. April 1 on PBS channels. But Manatee families have a chance to see the show together and exchange experiences with the preview screening at 6:30 p.m. March 23 at Bishop Planetarium.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to bring awareness to the struggles of service members facing combat-related injuries, and what their families go through, as well as to the Red Cross’ Services to Armed Forces Program,” said Bobbi Larson, CEO of the American Red Cross Manatee County Chapter.

“And we are so grateful to Bishop Planetarium for providing us with such a wonderful venue for this screening.”

The special is part of Sesame Street’s Talk, Listen, Connect Initiative, which provides support and resources for military families with young children struggling with the challenges of deployment, multiple deployments and the hard adjustments when a parent returns home changed because of a combat injury.

Gary E. Knell, president and chief executive of Sesame Workshop says the initiative not only celebrates military families but also tries to help them cope with the life-changing challenges that come with military service.

Sesame Workshop has produced more than 1.3 million kits, which are being distributed at no cost, to individual families, schools, child care programs, family support programs, hospitals and rehabilitation centers and other organizations serving the needs of military families.

The Talk, Listen, Connect materials are also available online at Find more information about “Coming Home” at

Because of its sensitive nature, Larson advises parents to watch this program with their children.