Katie Couric to Host Sesame Workshop Special

By Chris Ariens 

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CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric has signed on to participate in a new production from Sesame Workshop called “When Families Grieve.” The hour-long HD special features families’ personal stories about coping with the death of a parent, as well as strategies that have helped the families move forward. Couric lost her husband Jay Monahan to cancer in 1998 when their daughters were just 6 and 2 years old.

The special premieres April 14th at 8pmET/PT on PBS. More details after the jump.


Primetime Special Premiering on April 14 at 8 pm ET/ PT on PBS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. New York, N.Y., January 22, 2010 – Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, in association with Worldwide Pants Incorporated and Lookalike Productions, is producing a new primetime television special, When Families Grieve featuring Katie Couric and the Sesame Street Muppets. This hour-long HD special, airing in primetime nationwide in April on PBS, will present families’ personal stories about coping with the death of a parent, as well as strategies that have helped these families move forward.

Most recent data state that one in 20 American children under the age of 15 experiences the death of a parent whether it be from illness, suicide, accident or war-related.* Certain populations, such as military families, are more at risk of experiencing a sudden death. In just one year, from 2006 to 2007, an estimated 1,345 children from military families experienced the death of a parent serving in the military. The death of a parent is one of the most difficult things a child can face; but children are not the only ones that feel overwhelmed and experience change in their behavior. Grieving is a family experience and, thus, the entire family needs support during this most difficult time. This is why When Families Grieve will harness the unique approach that Sesame takes in addressing children’s needs: using the Sesame Street Muppets to aid the communication between adults and children with language and strategies that are child appropriate and useful for the whole family.

When Families Grieve is a continuation of Sesame Workshop’s award-winning Talk, Listen, Connect initiative that first launched in July 2006 providing resources and emotional support to military families with young children coping with the challenging transitions in their lives, such as deployments and when a parent comes home changed due to combat-related injury. This PBS special will air on April 14th at 8:00PM EST (check local listings) in conjunction with the Month of the Military Child & Month of the Young Child, and will be part of a multimedia, bi-lingual (English and Spanish) outreach kit for national distribution immediately following the April airdate. All materials will be available at www.sesamestreet.org/grief beginning April 15.

“Death and loss are a part of life, but they are very difficult for adults to discuss, much less children,” said Katie Couric. “I’m honored that Sesame Street, with its long history of tackling difficult issues with sensitivity, caring and warmth asked me to be a part of this important project. I hope that it will provide families with the tools to help them cope, begin the healing process and ultimately adjust to their ‘new normal’ in the healthiest way possible.”

“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 Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop. “When Families Grieve is Sesame Workshop’s contribution to all those who face the daunting challenge of helping a child cope and heal from the painful reality of a death of a loved one. We are honored by the families who share their very personal stories so others can learn and benefit from their journeys.”

The When Families Grieve Advisory Board, which consists of leading experts in child development and mental health, have informed and guided Sesame Workshop on all aspects of the project. The Advisors have helped outline the needs and challenges of young children facing the death of a parent, and have guided the development of age-appropriate and effective content for the program. For a full listing of all Project Advisors please visit www.sesamestreet.org/tlc.

TLC III Advisory Board Members include:
– Bonnie Carroll, Chairman and Executive Director, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
– Judith A. Cohen, M.D., Medical Director, Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents
– Stephen J. Cozza, M.D., COL, USA (Ret), Associate Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
– Vanessa Gabrielson, Volunteer, Leader, Facilitator, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
– Betsy Graham, LTC (Ret), Program Analyst, Office of Family Policy/Children & Youth, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Military Community & Family Policy)
– Frederica (Terri) Holmes, Parent, Quality Control Specialist National Institutes of Health
– Larry E. Jones, COL, ARNGUS, State Chaplain Joint Force Headquarters, North Carolina
– Alicia F. Lieberman, Ph.D., Director, Child Trauma Research Program
– Mary C. Owen, LCSW, Clinical Director, Wendt Center for Loss and Healing
– Patty Shinseki, Board Member, Military Child Education Coalition; Chair of its Living in the New Normal: Supporting Children Through Trauma and Loss initiative; Member of Board of Managers of The Army Emergency Relief
– Barbara Thompson, Director, Office of Family Policy/Children & Youth, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Military Community & Family

Major support for When Families Grieve has been provided by Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, BAE Systems, Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund of the California Community Foundation, and Walmart Foundation. Additional support has been provided by Lockheed Martin Corporation, Military OneSource, New York State Office of Mental Health, McCormick Foundation, USO, Military Child Education Coalition, Joseph Drown Foundation, Bank of New York Mellon, Oshkosh Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs – Vet Center Program.