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March 27, 2014 at 6:43am

Sesame Street app helps military children cope with moves

Sesame Street's The Big Moving Adventure: Your young child (ages 2??"5) can create his own muppet friend and help him or her through the moving process.

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The Department of the Army's National Center for Telehealth and Technology opened at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2010. The mission of the National Center for Telehealth and Technology is to foster, develop, research, and deploy technology solutions for psychological health and traumatic brain injury and deliver relevant, evidence-based applications for our warriors, veterans and their families. Known as T2, the Center also uses innovative ways to help military youth cope with the unique strains of military life. In addition to disruptions from parents deploying to assignments away from home, military children are affected by moving frequently, changing schools and making new friends.

The folks at T2 have created an app to help children cope with military moves. Launched in December, The Big Moving Adventure app lets children create a Muppet friend to help them through the moving process. Yes, the DoD knows the way to Sesame Street. It has partnered with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, on the mobile app, which is available for download from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon for Kindle Fire.

Below are excerpts from the app's news release out of the T2 camp.

"Moving can be stressful, and kids need to express feelings and say goodbye to people and things," said Dr. Kelly Blasko, psychologist at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology here. "The Muppet characters in this app help make the move a fun experience."

Children can use the app to help their Muppet friend make decisions on a variety of move-related issues, such as which toys to pack in a box and which to take along in their backpack. Children watch the Muppet say goodbye to their house, their military base and their classroom and playground friends. At the new house, children help their Muppet unpack, settle into the home and make new friends.

"Sesame Workshop has always been at the forefront of creating resources for families with young children to help address some of life's most difficult issues," said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for Community and Family Engagement at Sesame Workshop. "The Big Moving Adventure is part of Sesame Workshop's contribution to military families, who face the challenge of helping a child cope with this major transition and help our kids reach their highest potential."

Military parents face unique challenges during a move, and the app helps their young children through the experience. A separate parents section contains additional move-related topics and tips.

The Big Moving Adventure mobile app is the newest addition to a portfolio of multimedia resources developed by Sesame Workshop, in collaboration with the Defense Department, to help military families with deployments and life transitions. While developed specifically for military families with children 3 to 5 years old, it is useful for all families with young children experiencing a move, officials said.

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