Wal-Mart Working with Sesame Workshop on Military Families Outreach Project

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. here said yesterday it has entered into a partnership with New York-based Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, to develop an outreach project to help young children of parents in the United States Armed Services, National Guard, and Reserves deal with the stresses of military life.

The world's largest retailer said it would donate nearly $1 million to Sesame Workshop for the program, which is designed to support a reported community of thousands of children under the age of five that are in families of active duty military members and Reserve and Guard members. The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) will also serve as a partner in the program, offering additional support.

This project, launching in July, will help military families manage common challenges, including possible stress caused by a parent's deployment or reunion after a period of absence; frequent relocation, and other difficult issues.

The resources will consist of a bilingual (English/Spanish) kit with a DVD for children and adults starring the Muppets from Sesame Street and a print guide and poster for children, parents, and caregivers. Sesame Workshop will produce and distribute 125,000 of these kits at no cost to schools, childcare programs, family support centers, and other organizations serving the needs of military families.

The effort will also include a bilingual public service announcement and online content. Wal-Mart and Sesame Workshop will explore additional ways to share the project materials with other organizations and programs that support military families.

"Wal-Mart has a long history of supporting our troops and their families," said Betsy Reithemeyer, v.p., corporate affairs and executive director of the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club Foundation.

An advisory board of experts in child development, mental health, and programs supporting military families, will inform and guide Sesame Workshop on all aspects of the project. In addition, Sesame Workshop will conduct focus groups with members of military families who have young children to test the key messages and information provided by the advisory board.

In other Wal-Mart news, the retailer said yesterday it is launching a new advertising campaign designed to show how its wide assortment of merchandise brings value to a broad range of customers. Beginning this week, the "Save More, Smile More" 30-second television spots will run on network and national cable stations, and in national syndication and local markets.

"This campaign is very much in line with Wal-Mart's strategy of becoming constantly more relevant to the broad range of customers who shop our stores," said John Fleming, Wal-Mart's chief marketing officer, in a statement.

The "Save More, Smile More" spots feature a series of lifestyle scenes that show people using merchandise from Wal-Mart in their everyday activities. Merchandise categories represented include food, health and beauty products, as well as home decor, fitness equipment, jewelry, and office supplies.

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