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Cookie Monster takes the time to hug some children during a live performance at North Ridge High School in Layton, August 1.  (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

Cookie Monster takes the time to hug some children during a live performance at North Ridge High School in Layton, August 1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

Elmo, a character from Sesame Street, tells a story to the other muppets gathered around him. Sesame Street put on a live performance at Northridge High School for the military and families August 1.  (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

Elmo, a character from Sesame Street, tells a story to the other muppets gathered around him. Sesame Street put on a live performance at Northridge High School for the military and families August 1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

A street lamp directing the way on how to get to Sesame Street.  (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

A street lamp directing the way on how to get to Sesame Street. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

A muppet sings to Grover during the live performance at North Ridge High School in Layton, August 1.  (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

A muppet sings to Grover during the live performance at North Ridge High School in Layton, August 1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

Cookie Monster waves good-bye to the children at the end of the show at North Ridge High School in Layton, August 1.  (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

Cookie Monster waves good-bye to the children at the end of the show at North Ridge High School in Layton, August 1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Sesame Street, the American educational television series for children, held a live performance for military members and their families at Northridge High School on August 1. 

The tour was part of the Talk, Listen, Connect program which is an outreach program designed to support military families with deployments, homecomings and changes.
Muppets such as Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover and others inform and educate children ages 2-8 years old on how to deal with the changes of family dynamics through singing and dancing. 

Sesame Street realized the need to put out a message to the children of military families when deployments became a recurring theme with no clear end in sight.
"With so many deployments occurring over the years and children being affected by it, we knew we had to do something," said Josh Bourque, performance director for Sesame Street. "Parents aren't always there and others are going through the challenges of deployments right now." 

So with the help of the United Service Organizations, Military One Source and others, Sesame Street put together a short term tour to cover 43 military installations in four months. 

However, the directors knew it would be difficult to get a show on the road with such a short notice. They asked for volunteers to play the parts of the Muppets and were surprised by the response the received. 

A group of veteran Muppeteers quickly volunteered to take on the task and try to reach out to the children. 

"We are all here for them," said Mr. Bourque. "We chose to do this because we love the children, regardless of our various political affiliations." 

So they gathered the information they received from the Talk, Listen, Connect sites and set out targeting the biggest bases and those with the highest demands from deployments. 

Their performances entertain and educate the children while having fun at the same time. 

It came as no surprise that the auditorium, filled nearly to capacity, rose to their feet the moment the Muppets stepped on stage. 

Mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of all ages had smiles on their faces as familiar friends and TV heroes came to life before them with a message of coping and being a good son or daughter while mommy or daddy was gone. 

"They did a great job by keeping the children connected and interactive," said Stephanie Hern, family childcare coordinator for Hill Air Force Base. "The children were very excited and animated during the show." 

By keeping it simple and age-appropriate, a message was conveyed to the children and ideas and activities were presented to the parents as well. 

Through information provided by the Airman and Family Readiness Center and the show, parents and children can fully prepare themselves as much as possible to ease the transitions that occur from reoccurring deployments and homecomings.