The group performed their show, directed around helping military children deal with moving, to audiences at the Nellis Youth Center gym Aug. 28 and 29 with help of the USO Las Vegas chapter.
Since its debut in July 2008, the show has taken its message to more than 248,000 servicemembers and their families and performed more than 433 shows on 131 military bases in 33 states and 11 countries.
“Sesame Street knows kids and we know military families,” said Lonnie Cooper, USO tour manager. “We were looking for ways to work together in that area and we found this great show.”
The Nellis show marks the 42nd stop for the show on its 2012 tour.
“We work with all of the different branches of service and we work with people from many different bases,” Cooper said. “We’ve done a couple of other different projects, concerts with the Academy of Country Music Awards, here at Nellis. It’s a natural place for us to come. We have a lot of families here.”
This year’s show differs from earlier versions of the show that focused on helping families deal with deployment.
“This version of the show, which we started last year when we introduced Katie as a character, deals with moving,” Cooper said. “That’s one of the big things for military kids. One in three military families is going to move this year, and that’s a lot of pressure, especially on kids,” he said. “The kids who we are working with, are kids who are just learning how to make friends. So, they’re just learning that skill, then they’re moved to another place. We try and make them understand it’s not so scary. It doesn’t have to be scary. It can be a big adventure. It could be a great learning thing and that you get more friends.
You get to keep your old friends, and you get to make new friends.”
Issues such as moving and deployments are things many military families can recognize as hard discussion topics, especially Nellis families.
“We have a lot of families that have deployed a lot, and a lot of families that have moved in and out of places quite a bit, so it’s a great area for us to come to,” Cooper said.
“So many children have seen some of the same struggles (moving away from home and friends, having to make new friends, learning how to keep in touch) and even most adults have trouble expressing their feelings and fears,” said Kyle Igneczi, Sesame Street performer. “This show is a great way to start a conversation with the whole family… plus, it helps to know that your Sesame Street friends will always be there for you!”
The show is scheduled to move from Nellis to Luke AFB in Ariz.
“We’re just really glad to be here, we’re having a great time,” Cooper said.
For more information on Sesame Street/ USO Experience for Military Families visit their website at http://www.uso.org/sesame/.