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Sesame Workshop Responds To Hurricane Katrina

In response to the recent news and concerns surrounding the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Katrina, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind SESAME STREET, has updated its website to offer parents and caregivers tools that will help children cope during the aftermath of this stressful weather event. In addition, the nonprofit organization will re-air SESAME STREET's hurricane series, starting Sept. 12, and related public service announcements, starting Sept. 2.

"Sesame Workshop knows that young children nationwide are affected by a disaster like Hurricane Katrina," says Dr. Lewis Bernstein, evp, education, research and outreach, Sesame Workshop. "Children in the immediate, affected areas in Mississippi and Louisiana will need ongoing support, but young children nationwide are also aware of the disaster, and need help putting events into context. We are offering parents a trusted place to go to address the emotions that children feel when they are faced with any kind of natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina. It is crucial for adults to validate their children's feelings and we are providing strategies to help them."

The website, www.sesameworkshop.org, provides tips on how to manage the fear and anxiety often associated with frightening or traumatic events including severe weather such as tornadoes, hurricanes or thunderstorms. Ideas for indoor activities that help to divert a child's attention away from the crisis are available; and parents can access outreach materials from You Can Ask! a multi-lingual disaster recovery program made possible by Sesame Workshop and Project Liberty, a program that provided free crisis counseling to the victims of Sept. 11. The materials support children in handling concerns about their own safety and the safety of those closest to them. Other online resources include storm-related tips and information, most offered in English and Spanish, from Sesame Workshop's Education and Research division as well as links to organizations providing assistance to hurricane victims and PSAs.

Sesame Workshop, PBS KIDS and the Corp. for Public Broadcasting (CPB) will broadcast a special five-part installment of SESAME STREET, set to air on PBS KIDS beginning the week of Sept. 12. Through this encore presentation of SESAME STREET's first hurricane, parents will be provided with the tools necessary to help their children cope with tough emotions like loss and fear. This special broadcast, funded by the CPB, features a special appearance by TODAY's Al Roker, as Big Bird and friends must pull together to face the arrival of this weather phenomenon.

This series, which first aired in February 2001 and again in 2004, addresses the emotions that children feel when they are faced with any kind of natural disaster, whether it's a flood, a fire or a storm. These shows depict the events leading up to, during, and after the hurricane blows through, modeling behavior and providing emotional and practical guidance for coping with such a traumatic event. Other key take-home messages include the importance of validating children's feelings, and reasoning and communicating with one another, especially in times of need.

Another parenting tool available is Friends to the Rescue, a new video and DVD by Sesame Workshop and Sony Wonder. Starting tomorrow morning, www.sesameworkshop.org will include a link to a 2 1/2 minute piece of streaming video excerpted from the home video in which familiar friends on SESAME STREET must use teamwork to rebuild their homes and cope with their own emotions after a hurricane hits the neighborhood.

Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit educational organization making a meaningful difference in children's lives around the world. Founded in 1968, the Workshop changed television forever with the legendary SESAME STREET. Today, the Workshop continues to innovate on behalf of children in 120 countries, using its proprietary research methodology to ensure its programs and products are engaging and enriching. Find the Workshop online at www.sesameworkshop.org.

PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations, serving nearly 90 million people each week and reaching 99% of American homes.

CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, develops educational public radio, television and online services for the American people. The corporation is the industry's largest single source of funds for national public television and radio program development and production. CPB, a grant making organization, also funds more than 1,000 public radio and television stations. www.cpb.org

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