December 3, 2008

Here For You: Helping Your Child Cope With Serious Illness

It goes without saying that when a young child faces a life-threatening illness, it is devastating for everyone involved.

Sesame Workshop's outreach staff has produced a DVD based around the concept of honest, open talk. It encourages children and adults to ask lots of questions, and looks to establish communication in both directions – adults with children, and children with adults.

This DVD tells the story of Sesame Street's Elmo visiting his cousin Chester in the hospital as he is treated for a serious illness. Chester is a Sesame Street Muppet who was created specifically for the Here for You project. With input from doctors, nurses, and children, Elmo helps Chester understand and express his feelings of fear, anger, and guilt. The DVD also features Danny, a young leukemia patient.

5,000 copies of the Here For You DVD to the nation's 250 children's hospitals, pediatric medical organizations, and children's palliative care programs. The nonprofit healthcare research and public policy organization, which is affiliated with Dartmouth Medical School, is also launching the Helping Children Cope With Serious Illness Fund (HCCwSIF). HCCwSIF will donate funds to participating children's hospitals in order to support full-time pediatric behavioral health specialists who will provide additional ongoing, outpatient, health counseling for children and families facing serious illnesses.