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release 080917

Sesame Street's Rosita And Friends Recognize National Preparedness Month By Helping Families Get Ready For Emergencies

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
DHS Press Office
Contact: 202-282-8010
For Immediate Release
September 17, 2008

WASHINGTON — As parts of the United States try to recover from the impact of Hurricane Ike, it's clear that natural disasters are unavoidable. Whether people are faced with hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, or an event such as 9/11, there is definitely a need for emergency readiness to assure that children are protected physically and psychologically in the event of a disaster. With that in mind, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, today launched Let's Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies as part of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) National Preparedness Month in September. This bi-lingual (Spanish-English) initiative will help families with young children between the ages of two and five prepare for an emergency with basic information and ways in which they can best respond to an emergency and helps them develop a sense of resilience and self-confidence. The announcement was made today at the John Tyler Elementary School by Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop, Mrs. Meryl Chertoff, who attended on behalf of DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, and Sesame Street’s Rosita.

The program was created in collaboration with DHS's Ready Kids and the Ad Council's ongoing preparedness effort, which helps parents and teachers educate children, about emergencies and how they can help their families prepare. Let's Get Ready! was funded by American Greetings, with additional support from The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and original funding provided by the Bear Stearns Charitable Foundation. The Let's Get Ready! kits will be available to download online at and In addition Public Service announcements will be produced by Sesame Workshop and distributed through the Ad Council to promote awareness around the importance of planning for emergencies. The Ad Council will be distributing the PSA's to approximately 1,000 stations nationwide this week. Finally, the video component will soon be available, free of charge, on iTunes under the Learning Along with Sesame TV series.

Let's Get Ready! will provide resources for preparedness and offer strategies to confront emergencies, helping families understand that having a family plan and an emergency kit is useful for responding to any type of disaster. Families will learn that a plan enables them to operate as a unit with the whole families' well-being in mind, even if they're not in the same place. Additionally, Let's Get Ready! will show that creating an emergency plan with your child(ren) and in your community gives everybody a sense of connection, protection, and comfort.

"For nearly 40 years, Sesame Workshop and our beloved Sesame Street Muppets have always addressed educational and community needs through the creative use of media," said Gary E. Knell, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop. "As we address these needs we have never shied away from delving into deep and complex issues and finding accessible and age appropriate ways to talk about these issues with children and families.""Family preparedness is the cornerstone of personal and community readiness, and we could not be more pleased to team up with Sesame Workshop," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Parents, especially with young children, can use these tools to quickly and easily prepare their family for the unexpected, and equip their children with the information they need in an emergency situation."


"Sesame Workshop has had a long and special relationship with children and, therefore, they are a credible source for our preparedness messages," said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of the Ad Council. "This program is a wonderful extension of our efforts with the Department of Homeland Security to encourage families to take simple steps to prepare."

Let's Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies will help adults explain to young children various ways they can be physically and emotionally prepared for an emergency. Included will be a print guide for parents and caregivers, a children's activity book, and a DVD starring the Sesame Street Muppets in an engaging story about emergency preparedness.

The materials will offer tips on how families can prepare their children for an emergency in age-appropriate ways such as:

  • Everyone, even young children, can play a role in planning for the unexpected.
  • Creating an emergency plan that the entire family practices and shares with the significant people in their lives is important.
  • Helping children learn personal information such as a phone number, their full names, and the names of special people in their home, is helpful in case of any emergency.

As with all Sesame Workshop outreach projects, the themes and content of the initiative is based on research as well as advice and review from experts in the field of emergency and trauma preparedness, pediatrics, psychiatry, child development and early care and education. The advisors have helped determine the needs and challenges of young children and guide the development of age-appropriate and effective content for the program. In addition, a collaboration has been forged with the Department of Pediatrics of Weill Cornell Medical College, whose expertise in the area of child development and emotional trauma helped ensure that the materials are useful, appealing, and highly effective.

Advisory Board participants include:

  • Steve Cozza, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University School of Medicine; Associate Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
  • Cathy Grace, Ed.D., Professor and Director, National Center for Rural Early Childhood Learning Initiatives, Early Childhood Institute, Mississippi State University
  • Inga Jelescheff, Senior Director, Operations and Program Management, Preparedness and Health and Safety Services, American Red Cross National Headquarters
  • Evelyn Lipper, M.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Cornell Weil
  • Michael McGrady, Interim Executive Director, Head Start
  • Dr. Sheryl L. Pipe, Ph.D., Senior Director, Humane Education, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
  • Beverley Schmalzried, Ph.D., Director of Strategic Initiatives, National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies & Professor, Milligan College, TN
  • JR Thomas, Associate Vice President, Domestic Emergencies Unit, Save the Children
  • Mary Jo Ward, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor of Psychology in Pediatrics and Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in collaboration with more than 2,500 national, regional, state and local businesses and organizations have pledged their support and joined the 2008 National Preparedness Month Coalition. Sponsored by the department's Ready Campaign, National Preparedness Month helps to raise awareness and promote action by Americans, businesses, and communities on emergency preparedness.

About Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street. As the single largest informal educator of young children, local Sesame Street programs produced in countries as diverse as South Africa, Bangladesh and India are making a difference in over 120 nations. Using proprietary research to create engaging and enriching content, Sesame Workshop produces programs such as Dragon Tales and Pinky Dinky Doo. In addition, multimedia needs-driven initiatives provide families tools for addressing such issues as children's health, military deployment and emergency preparedness. As a nonprofit, product proceeds and philanthropic donations support Sesame Workshop's educational research and creative content for children around the world. Learn more at