From its program Talk, Listen, Connect to its half-hour special “Coming Home: Military Families Cope With Change,” Sesame Street has found several ways to reach members of its young audience dealing with the hardships that come with having a family member deployed.
Now the PBS kids series has brought aboard army veteran J.R. Martinez for a segment about feelings. For his segment, which aired on Sesame Street this Thursday, Martinez touches on his experience in Iraq, where he suffered severe burns when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb. He tells kids that his skin was badly hurt and that talking about your feelings can help you through tough times.
Elmo shared the screen with Martinez for his guest appearance. Above, he’s pictured with Murray, whom he joined for a parenting tip segment.
Check out Martinez’s Sesame Street segment about feelings below:
The segment was written by Christine Ferraro, who has penned much of Sesame Street’s outreach programming about the military.
“She really knows the emotional stuff and what a kid can take and how to manage it with Muppets,” head writer and producer Joey Mazzarino tells EW.
For Martinez, talking about his injuries on Sesame Street was an extension of the public talks and motivational speaking engagements he’s done.
“I think it’s important to be open and sharing and talking about it because you can help a lot of people by doing that,” he tells EW. “Kids feel at times that they don’t have a voice, or they feel like no one’s going to listen. So we have to encourage kids to continue to talk and to vent and to share those feelings and not keep those in.”
Martinez, an All My Children and Dancing with the Stars alum, is among several celebs who appear on Sesame Street this year. Still to come this season are segments featuring Hank Azaria, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Tyler Perry.