Sesame Workshop and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have announced plans to distribute bilingual, multi-media outreach kits entitled Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment, this August. The announcement was made by Sesame Workshop president and CEO Gary E. Knell and Wal-Mart vice president of corporate affairs Ray Bracy, at the annual Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) national conference. Distribution of the Talk, Listen, Connect kits will begin on 1 August. Based on feedback from the program’s advisory board, as well as the priorities established from focus groups, the kits will be distributed at no cost to military families through the following outlets and provided by the US Department of Defense. Due to an overwhelming response to the announcement of the project and feedback from Talk, Listen, Connect’s advisory board, Wal-Mart has donated an additional $575,000, for a total of nearly $1.5 million in funding. This additional funding will increase the number of kits produced by Sesame Workshop and their partners to nearly 400,000 kits. The resources will consist of a bilingual (English / Spanish) kit with a DVD for children and adults, starring the Muppets from Sesame Street, and a magazine and poster for children, parents and caregivers. The Talk, Listen, Connect kits will also be available online at http://www.sesameworkshop.org/tlc, where streaming video is being provided by The Department of Defense Quality of Life Information Technology Center, so families everywhere can view the video and download the information. To meet the needs of children, Sesame Workshop developed Talk, Listen, Connect, with an initial donation of nearly $1 million from Wal-Mart and additional support from The New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH) and the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC). The project will help children between the ages of three and five, whose parents are members of the United States Armed Services, National Guard and Reserves, cope with the feelings, challenges, and concerns experienced during various phases of deployment: pre-deployment, deployment and homecoming. “Wal-Mart has a long history of supporting our troops and their families. We are proud to be part of a program that will provide important resources to the children of our servicemen and servicewomen, who bravely serve our country and defend our freedom. At Wal-Mart, we are committed to honoring and supporting these individuals each and every day and we are proud to be part of a project that takes a holistic approach to helping the entire family,” said Bracy. “Sesame Workshop is grateful to Wal-Mart and our partners and proud that Talk, Listen, Connect kits will be distributed nationwide, as well as, be available online for all military families to access these groundbreaking materials. It is our privilege to provide Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve families with unique tools to help their young children find emotional strength and resilience,” said Knell. “Whether children are worried about moving to a new home or school or a parent’s deployment, being a child in a military family represents a unique emotional challenge for today’s youth. OMH is proud to have been invited to play a role in this important initiative with Sesame Workshop and Wal-Mart,” said commissioner Sharon E. Carpinello.