Elmo, Big Bird lend a hand
 
25 August 2011

published by www.smh.com.au


Australia -- BIG Bird has lost his nest during ''a big emergency''. Elmo has had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Bert and Ernie lend a helping hand.

These muppets are the stars of Here for Each Other, a booklet designed by American children's television stalwart Sesame Street and Victoria's education department to help preschoolers cope with natural disasters such as bushfires, earthquakes and floods. It was launched yesterday at the reopening of a kindergarten at Flowerdale, a town devastated by the 2009 bushfires.

A PDF (portable document format) version on the department's website will supplement 25,000 copies distributed through early education services. Copies have also been printed for families in Queensland and New Zealand.
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Adapted from a Sesame Street guide created after hurricane Katrina, the booklet includes read-aloud stories, drawing exercises and memory games for children under five, interspersed with tips for parents. Victorian education psychologist Vicki Trethowan added some extra exercises and advice for local families (''You may want some support to manage your own natural feelings and emotions such as helplessness, sadness, fear, and anger'') and a note that Australian children ''may not want to talk'' and that this is OK. ''Sesame Street's little furry characters will give messages to children in a really kind and sensitive way,'' Dr Trethowan said.

Parents also get a glossary of simple explanations of natural disasters, ranging from earthquakes to tsunamis to snowstorms to fires.