By Alicia Lacy

Fort Hood Herald

Marissa, 3, and Kathryn Forbes, 9, have been fortunate so far.

The girls have not gone through a deployment yet, their mother, Kassandra, said.

But Forbes brought her girls to Sunday's The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families at Fort Hood to help prepare the girls for when the day comes.

Forbes' husband is now in Stryker training and does not have any pending deployments in the near future.

Forbes and her girls joined dozens of other Army families at Abrams Physical Fitness Center to see the Sesame Street stars and learn ways to help their children cope with multiple deployments or having a parent come home injured.

Kiarah, 7, and Alana Watts, 3, attended with their mother, Susan Watts.

The day before the show, the girls saw their dad off to his first deployment.

Watts said the show helped get the deployment off their minds.

"We've been talking to them about it for a long time," Watts said. "The girls helped him pack and went to see him off."

The show opened with a song and dance routine, followed by Elmo announcing his dad leaving again for work.

"Sometimes Elmo has a not so sunny day because his daddy has to go away for a while," Elmo said.

Throughout the show, Elmo and his friends - Grover, Cookie Monster, Rosita and Zoe - sing about the things they do to help deal with the absence of a parent for an extended period of time.

The characters each sang about things they like to do. Grover writes letters and draws pictures to send to his friends, Elmo likes to have his mom read him stories his dad used to read to him and Rosita sings with her family.

The children danced as the characters performed their routines, waving the light-up Elmo toys they received at the door.

Kiarah said she enjoyed the show, especially seeing Elmo.

Angela Oakley with Fort Hood Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation said attendance at the shows have been phenomenal with about 1,500 attending the first show Saturday and 1,000 at the following show.

The show is a collaboration of Sesame Street Workshop's Talk, Listen, Connect initiative and the USO.

"Sesame Street's Talk, Listen, Connect program focused on deployment and changes for military families and wanted to expand the reach of that message." said Lonnie Cooper, tour manager USO/Sesame Street Experience.

Cooper said the tour helps children understand and deal with deployments and open the dialogue between the children and parents.

"They really get it and understand what Elmo is talking about," he said.

Sesame Workshop launched the initiative in 2006 to support and to provide resources for military families with young children who experience the effects of deployments or wounded parents.

The tour kicked off at Fort Knox, Ky., in April and is scheduled to wrap up at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., in September.

Contact Alicia Lacy at or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

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