MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI,Japan -- Experience for Military Families, partnered with Sesame Street and Vee Corporation, delivered a free performance to military families at the Sakura Theater aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Aug. 14, 2015.
The program, “Katie is Moving to a New Base,” is designed to help children of military families transition during a permanent change of station.
According to www.uso.org Katie, Elmo’s military friend, is sad because she is moving to a new location with her military family. By singing songs like “What I am” and “Everything’s A OK,” Katie’s Sesame Street friends help her through the difficult process by highlighting the positives of relocating to a new base. Military kids may relate to Katie’s situation and could learn how to deal with a difficult move away from family and friends.
“I felt sad moving to a new base and leaving my old friends behind,” said Caleigh Rhinehart, age 7, a military child aboard MCAS Iwakuni. “I remember feeling the same way that Katie felt.”
Alexis Saroukos, the performance director, said the biggest thing they want kids to take away from the show is that they can keep their friends even when they move.
“The kids can keep in touch with their friends through letters and phone calls,” said Saroukos. “No matter where you are, you can have friendships and hold relationships with people, while forging new ones too.”
At the conclusion of the show, children crowded up to the stage while the Sesame characters greeted them with hugs and handshakes.
“It’s our way of hand delivering a live, singing and dancing thank-you card to all our military families,” said Nicole McClendon, the tour manager. “It lets the families know that we understand and appreciate the sacrifices they make and that we are here for them.”
Military kids can move anywhere from six to nine times before they hit high school. Bringing Elmo and friends directly to them is like bringing a little bit of home away from home, according to McClendon.
Families in attendance received a special Sesame Street toy and reading material outlining the importance of military families adjusting to change.
“We get a lot of thank yous from the audience and many of the children ask us to come back,” said Saroukos.
The USO is scheduled to perform 100 Sesames Street shows at 45 military bases in nine countries this year.