Kansas City, KS Welcomes Sesame Street in Communities
Mar 01, 2019
The Kansas City, KS School District has a new resource to help students and their families, and it comes in the form of lovable, colorful Muppets. In February, KCK became the eighth community nationwide to welcome Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC). This program works to foster resiliency in kids and families with free, bilingual resources that help meet physical development and emotional needs. It focuses on helping children deal with trauma. How? Through the help of familiar friends like Grover, Bert, Ernie, Elmo, and more.
“We leverage the trust in our Muppets to help families,” said Rochelle Haynes, Vice President of Social Impact at Sesame Workshop. “We don’t talk enough about how trauma impacts kids from birth to 5. That’s where Sesame Street comes in. That age is our expertise. We can lean into courageously addressing this.”
The program is built on a framework of community involvement and engages with what Haynes calls a circle of care: “children, caregivers, and resources. It’s designed from a child’s perspective.
Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, The Family Conservancy, and KVC Health Systems are all partnering to bring Sesame Street to work with the 22,000 students in the KCK School District. James Roberson, Vice President of Innovation for KVC Hospitals says KVC has been working on trauma and resiliency programs in KCK for a decade now, but it presents challenges. “One of the difficulties of addressing trauma is taking resiliency programs out of a clinical setting and into the communities,” he said. “One of our missions is for every person in this community to make sure they understand the impact of trauma and adversity. We need strategies that we can give parents and caregivers so they can get help explaining different topics. And while schools have a great capacity for addressing trauma, building family strengths is the long solution. Sesame Street gives us that opportunity. It’s written for kids. We don’t have to adapt or change it. We can hand it to them.”
It’s important to reach children in the early years, as 90% of brain growth happens in the first five years of life.
“SSIC’s goals align with the priorities of Kansas City, Kansas public schools, which are to improve education and life outcomes,” said Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust. “They will provide district staff with additional resources surrounding trauma-sensitive school environments, ensuring that we are taking care of each student mentally, emotionally, and academically.”
SSIC launched in Kansas City, Missouri last year, but Haynes says she realized success in KCMO wouldn’t be possible unless KCK was involved as well. She predicts the positive impact of SSIC will benefit the community as a whole - state line or no state line.
“While we’re helping the kids we’re kind of helping the big people too,” she said. “When you’re helping a family, you’re helping the community at the same time.”
Parents and caregivers can take advantage of free resources and tools available on the Sesame Street In Communities website.