In the 1990s, Sesame Workshop began producing Sesame Street videos for internal use, exploring specific topics like lead poisoning and asthma that would otherwise not be featured on the main series. These productions were originally produced and released non-commercially on VHS tapes, and later, DVDs, that were packaged with physical outreach kits given to schools and communities for free. With the advances of digital distribution, many videos would later see wider release online, even on e-commerce platforms like the iTunes Store and Amazon.com.
Sesame Street’s outreach projects have since transitioned to primarily online resources and videos. Launched in 2013, Sesame Street in Communities toolkits, and their corresponding YouTube channel, include clips from existing videos and specials as well as newly produced short-form segments featuring Muppet characters and cast members. Topics covered range from building vocabulary and literacy to foster care and parental addiction.
Many of these projects are produced in English and Spanish. Though most Spanish language translations have redubbed dialogue, several have reshot scenes where the bilingual actors (Carmen Osbahr as Rosita, for example) speak their lines live in Spanish. In these cases, other Muppet performers operate their characters lip-syncing to the voices of Spanish actors.
Friends, Families, Neighbors: Elmo complains that his dad has to go work, but he's quickly cheered up when he realizes Nina will be taking care of him today. Nina suggests they go to the park, but when Louie mentions that Elmo woke up very early this morning, Nina decides he should take a nap first, so he'll have more energy for later. Elmo goes off to get a book to help him settle in for nap-time.
Violence in Communities: An anxious Rosita approaches Alan, having overheard about a recent community tragedy. Alan lets her talk about it and assures her that he feels the same way, and he'll always be here to listen. Rosita notices the basket Alan has prepared for the community, and she retrieves a paper flower she made to add to the basket.
Special-Special Comfort: Elmo tells Sofía that whenever he needs to feel brave or safe, he always has Baby David with him. Similarly, Sofía has a locket she wears that reminds her of her abuela. Other characters are seen talking about their special-special favorite things; Abby Cadabby has her doll Prince, Big Bird has Radar, and Rosita wears one of her father's shirts, to remind her of him even when he's away.
Incarceration: Sofía sits on the steps of the garden with Alex and Rosita. She tells the viewer that a child can feel overwhelmed when a loved one is incarcerated. Alex recalls how hard it was for him when his dad went to jail. Rosita and Sofía comfort Alex, reminding him that he's not alone.
Divorce: Abby is on her way back to her mommy's house, and she explains that her mommy and her daddy are divorced. She says that talking about it with her parents helped her a lot, and she knows that they both will always love her.
Math: Count von Count proclaims that he loves something else besides counting. His bats answer "Math!" The Count shows how math is everywhere, and can be found doing everyday things (such as having a whole or half sandwich).
Healthy Eating: Cookie Monster discusses the importance of eating healthy foods. He acknowledges that he's not the most ideal role model, but he's learned that cookies are okay to eat sometimes, and there all kinds of healthy foods to have anytime.
Family Bonding: Rudy adds a picture of his new family to a collage of other family photos. Abby, Freddy, and Maggie look on and they observe the other families pictured (including Big Bird and his granny, and Elmo and his parents). They note that every family is unique, and that while the people in a family may not look alike, they all share love for each other.
Big Bird & His Granny: Big Bird and Granny Bird look through their photo album, which includes pictures of baby Big Bird, and even Granny Bird as a baby. They then sing an old family song about bird sounds. Granny Bird remembers a surprise she brought for her grandson: a box of birdseed cookies. Big Bird returns the favor by singing a special song for her.
Daddy Kiddie Dance Day: Rosita's father, Ricardo, helps put a bow clip in her hair before she joins Rudy and Elmo for dance class. Ricardo, Freddy and Louie talk with each other about the great times they've been having with their kids. Suddenly, music starts to play, signaling that it's time for their dance class. A dance instructor welcomes her pupils to "Daddy-Kiddy Boogie Day," and the kids and their fathers start doing their own wiggle dance.
A Monster Fairy Problem: The monster-fairy family are about to head to a baseball game, but Abby falls behind. She feels sad because she misses her dad (who loves baseball). Maggie reassures Abby that her dad will continue to play a big part in her life, as will her step-brother Rudy and step-father Freddy.
M is for Mom: Cookie Monster has made a special heart-shaped cookie as a gift for his mom, but he becomes so excited that he accidentally breaks it. Cookie is crushed, but his mom compliments his gift and helps him realize that he already does many things to show that he loves her. She also points out that because the cookie's in pieces, they both can share it. Cookie adds one more touch, frosting hearts, before they devour the cookie pieces.
Stormy Days: Elmo strolls down the street singing the "Sesame Street Theme" and happens on a disheartened Rosita. She feels emotionally charged (like a thunderstorm) after an incident that happened earlier that morning. Ricardo and Rosita were about to attempt a guitar duet, but his hand hurt too much to play. Elmo suggests talking about the big feelings she has with her parents. Rosita eventually agrees, and admits she feels better after talking about it with Elmo.
Stepping Up: A talent show is being held in the arbor to a full crowd (including Elmo and Louie), and Rosita nervously waits for Ricardo to arrive so they can perform the dance number they rehearsed. Rosa comes to tell Rosita that Ricardo cannot make it. She explains that Ricardo's brain injury makes some days more difficult than others, and right now, he needs time to himself. Rosa consoles a disappointed Rosita, and proposes that instead, they could sing their "We Love Our Papi" song for the talent show. Rosita likes the idea, and suggests that maybe they can also sing it to Ricardo when they get home. The two hug and head onstage.
A 3-part audio-only production was released to the Sesame Street in Communities website and podcast feed. English and Spanish language versions were produced. Both feature Carmen Osbahr's vocals as Rosita, and the English version features narration by Chris Knowings.
A Cloudy Day Story: Rosita sees a trailer for the film Super Duper Duck and begs her parents to go see it. Ricardo doesn't feel like going to a movie theater, noting that crowds and loud noises can make him feel overwhelmed. Rosita then asks to go with her friends instead, but Rosa declines, reminding her that today is family day. Rosita's parents have her talk about how frustrated she feels, and they all take a deep breath and sound out their frustrations to feel better. Rosa suggests playing "Super Duper Duck Hero" for family day.
A Stormy Day Story: Rosa gets a phone call informing her that Ricardo's stay in the hospital will be a little longer. Rosita feels worried and sad about her father being in the hospital. Rosa says it's okay to have these feelings and suggests they do some house chores to take their minds off of it. While making Rosita's bed, they find a note from Ricardo, giving Rosita the idea to leave some notes for him around the house when he returns.
A Sunny Day Story: Ricardo is coming home from the hospital, and Rosita and Rosa are busily preparing for a party celebrating his return. Rosita gathers supplies to make some welcome home signs, while Rosa makes Ricardo's (and Rosita's) favorite dessert: pineapple upside-down cake. Later, Ricardo is welcomed back by his family and friends, including Rosita's Abuela, Elmo, and Louie. Ricardo and his family sing "Mi Familia" before everyone treats themselves to some cake.
A Rainbow Kind of Day: Elmo, Sofía, and Lily are almost finished painting a rainbow mural, which Sofía notes needs a little more purple. Lily then starts to feel sad and walks away. Elmo and Sofía encourage her to talk about her feelings to make her feel better. Lily, whose family recently lost their apartment, explains that purple is her favorite color, and it reminds her of her old bedroom. Sofía (whom Lily's family is currently staying with) explains that home is more than just a physical location, it's where the love is. Sofía and Elmo ensure Lily there will be lots of love, and she even offers Lily to use some purple-colored items of her's. Lily now feels better, and she and Elmo go off to fetch more purple paint. Elmo also brings some lily stickers; Sofía mentions it's just like Lily's name, and that a lily is a symbol of hope. Lily takes this as meaning wherever she is, there will always be hope and love.
Family Homelessness: An extension of "A Rainbow Kind of Day," when Elmo and Lily leave to get more purple paint, Sofía talks to the viewer about the importance of letting children discuss their feelings, and reiterating that home is wherever the love lives.
Connect The Dots: Lily stays behind as her classmates head home. Sofía shows Lily a strategy to remember how many people care about her. She draws dots on a blackboard, each one representing a caring person in Lily's life. Sofía helps Lily connect the dots, which form the shape of a heart. Sofía reminds Lily that all the love that made this heart is the love that lives in Lily's heart. She also says they can always add more dots, so Lily names more friends to add.
Ribbons of Hope: During her playdate with Elmo, Lily reveals that her parents have finally found a new apartment, and she shows him her ribbon bracelets. Lily explains that during their difficult time, her mother would keep a bank of ribbons, and whenever she made a bracelet for Lily and put it on, she would say "We got this!". Lily lets Elmo have one of his ribbon bracelets for being a good friend.
Financial Education: C is for... "Choices!" as Cookie's mommy brings up. She gives her son some alternative choices to eating a cookie now; he could save it for later (which proves to be too hard), or share it with someone he loves. Cookie ultimately settles on the latter and splits half of his cookie with his mommy.
Foster Care: Elmo and Karli play monster ball in the park as Louie cheers them on from the sidelines. Karli's foster parents, Dalia (Lindsey Briggs) and Clem (Paul McGinnis), meet up with Louie and invite Elmo to have dinner at their house on "Pizza Party Tuesday."
A Place For You: Elmo arrives to share some monster-rella cheese pizza with Karli's family. Karli points to the special placemats for everyone at the table. She then notices her placemat is missing and becomes upset. Clem and Dalia console Karli, and they explain to Elmo that they're her foster parents (or "for-now" parents), which means they're taking care of Karli while her mother gets better. They then sing a song to reinforce that Karli has a place and she is safe. Meanwhile, Elmo discovers that Karli's placemat was under the pizza box the whole time, and he joins in on a reprise of the song.
Big Changes: Big Bird and Granny Bird (both Caroll Spinney) wait out a big storm. Big Bird is sad that he's away from his nest and can't do things he normally does. Granny Bird helps him feel better by suggesting some activities they can do together, and she keeps his teddy bear Radar handy for him to cuddle.
Big Feelings: Elmo feels too scared to sleep after an emergency that happened earlier in the day. Louie explains that grown-ups can have big feelings too, and that it helps to talk about it. Elmo starts to feel better after cuddling Baby David and giving his dad a hug.
Help on the Way: Rosita is unsettled by the sound of an oncoming siren. Her mother Rosa tells her that there's no need to feel afraid, and that a siren sound means that someone is coming to help. Rosita takes this as a way of saying that there's "help on the way."
Playing Together: Elmo is slow to catch on that when the power is out, nothing that runs on it (indoor lights, TV, computer) will work. Louie reminds Elmo that they can still do fun activities together, like making shadow puppets.
Handling Tantrums: Cookie Monster is eager to have some cookies for snacktime, but Nina informs him that he'll have to wait longer while the cookies continue to bake. Cookie is visibly impatient and starts going crazy, and Nina explains that it can be difficult for children to manage their emotions. Nina helps Cookie calm down by taking some slow, deep breaths.
Grief: Elmo and Louie look through a photo album which includes a couple pictures of Elmo and his Uncle Jack. The two express their missing Uncle Jack and fondly remember the silly way he'd step up to the plate to play baseball.
How Children Learn: Chris happens on Abby playing blocks with her doll, Queen Puppy. He notes to the viewer that she's not "just" playing blocks, but also learning such concepts as sizes, shapes, and using her imagination. Abby and Queen Puppy's block castle falls over, proving their hypothesis that the bigger blocks go on the bottom. The two royally invite Chris to help them rebuild.
Asthma: Rosita asks Dani if he'd like to go see Melissa's new dog, but Dani points out that he has asthma, which makes it hard for him to breathe when he's around furry animals. So instead, Rosita pulls out her phone to show Dani a picture of the dog.
Milestones: Grover runs in, panicked, and forewarns the viewer about "little creatures" crawling among us. He changes his tune as he reveals two AM monster babies, who gurgle and cuddle up against him.
Milestones - 3 months: Moving boxes are seen stacked along the stoop of 123 Sesame Street as Abby and Rudy excitedly talk about the new brother-and-sister stuff they'll be doing together. Maggie Cadabby and Freddy arrive with Rudy's old memory box, which holds various artifacts from Rudy's past. Rudy hardly remembers his old elephant baby rattle, but it reminds Freddy of the time when Rudy discovered his hands. A flashback shows Freddy holding three-month-old Rudy, who recognizes that his rattle makes noise when he shakes his hands. Back in the present, Abby proposes that they come up with their own family handshake.
Milestones - 12 months: Abby brings out another memory from the box, the first drawing that Rudy ever made (a purple squiggle that Rudy observes looks like he tried to draw "pasketti."). Freddy recalls when Rudy was one, shown in another flashback, and drummed on the pots and pans in their kitchen. In the present, Rudy finds the old bowl he used to wear as a hat. Abby puts on another bowl hat, and Freddy takes a family selfie.
Milestones - 2 years: Maggie and Freddy have almost finished moving in the boxes. Abby and Rudy look through a box of Rudy's books, and they uncover an old animal book that reminds Freddy of when Rudy was two. In a flashback, Freddy is seen reading the book to two-year-old Rudy, who points to the animals pictured and makes their sounds. Rudy even names the water buffalo, and in the present, Rudy cites the animal as his favorite because it has horns like him. Maggie notes that once everything's moved in, they'll officially be a family, and they share a group hug.
Parental Addiction: Elmo sits in the park with Louie, talking about the great monster ball game he had with Karli. Their conversation shifts to the absence of Karli's mother, which Louie explains is because she had to get help for her addiction. He assures Elmo that Karli's mom is working hard to get better.
Lending a Hand: Chris watches Elmo and Karli at Hooper's Store while Karli's mom is at her meeting. Chris and Karli explain to Elmo that Karli's mom sits with a group of people who have the same problem she's having, and they talk about it as way of getting healthier. Karli mentions that she goes to a kids-only meeting where they hold hands and sing. Elmo holds hands with Karli, which makes her feel better.
It's Not Your Fault: Elmo and Karli play with their dolls, Baby David and Karli's stuffed elephant, who accidentally knocks over their block castle. "It's all my fault," she coos. Karli connects this with how she used to feel about some things, like her mom's problem. She remembers her mom assuring her that it was a "grown-up problem," it wasn't because of anything she did, and that she loves her no matter what. The two monsters and their dolls exchange a hug, which is enough to make Elephant feel better and help rebuild their castle.
Monster Music: Karli and Abby Cadabby have a dance party. Karli notes that she's humming a special song that she and her mommy made up in monster-music class, about how they love each other and how happy they are to be together again. Karli reflects on her mom's grown-up problem, and says she's happy that she's taking care of herself and they're back together. Karli sings the song for Abby, and then they make up a song about being friends.
Karli and Salia Breathe Deep: Karli and Salia discuss how their parents have dealt with addiction, and how they've learned that they're not alone and it's okay to share their feelings. Karli asks Salia what her parents do to stay healthy. Salia mentions her mother teaches meditation, and she demonstrates with Karli how she likes to relax, which involves spreading their hands out and taking deep breaths. (YouTube)
The video was re-edited into two additional videos titled "A Friend Like You - Introduction" (YouTube) and "A Friend Like You - Breathe Deep." (YouTube)
A Friend Like You - Flower Art: Salia shows Karli her drawing of a flower, with each petal representing a big feeling she has (angry, happy, etc.). Karli then shows her feelings flower drawing, which originated from a conversation with her mom when she was mad. Karli's mom instructed her to draw her feelings out so they could work through them together.
Reading & Writing: Abby really loves reading, even though she's still learning. She reads all sorts of things with her parents, from stop signs to cereal boxes. She then goes off to read a fairy tale book with her mommy.
Back to School: Ms. Galarza says good-bye to her students as they leave the classroom, and she checks with Rudy to make sure he has everything he needs. Rudy is greeted by Freddy at the door, and he tells him all about his day at school. Rudy also shows Freddy a book he made entitled "All About Me." Freddy points to something Rudy left behind in his cubby, a flyer for next week's class trip to the aquarium, which Freddy mentions he signed up for (as a parent volunteer). Rudy is excited that he'll get to hang out with his dad, while Ms. G notes that the three of them make a great learning team.
Meet Maggie Cadabby: Abby accidentally spills some honeysuckle petunia juice and calls out for her mommy. Maggie arrives and has her calm down by taking a deep breath. She tells Abby that they don't need magic to clean up the mess, so they consider other possible solutions; eventually landing on wiping it up with a sponge. Maggie helps Abby realize that spilling something isn't a big deal, and when such a problem arises, they need to look for solutions, and turn that "oops" into an "Ah-ha!" moment.
Observe With Me: Abby and Rudy show Maggie their wonder journals. Rudy decides to start logging in his journal then and there, so Maggie encourages him to use his senses to find out about the things around him. Rudy sees some sunflowers in the garden, and smells one of them, and touches it to feel how fuzzy it is. Rudy and Abby continue to use their senses as they explore the garden. They inspect a big, green plant, and a ladybug that rests under one of its leaves. They also find a bug under a rock. Abby recognizes the bug from one of her previous journal entries, calling it a "roly-poly bug."
Let's Make Up a Story: Rosita and her abuela observe the night sky and make up a story about a rabbit named Luna, who lived on the moon. The live-action transitions to animated sequences which show Rosita befriending Luna, and helping her practice hopping so she can return to the moon.
Science: Abby and Rudy track their plant's progress in the garden. Freddy appears and asks if they're doing science. He says that doing science starts with a little curiosity, which leads Rudy and Abby to brainstorm how they can make their plant grow larger. Freddy recommends going to the library to find out more.
Staying Healthy: In his bathroom, Elmo demonstrates some of the important hygienic practices that grown-ups teach children to stay healthy and strong. Louie is heard calling for Elmo, which means that it's time to go to the doctor's for his check-up.
Characters: Big Bird, Rosita, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Count von Count, Alan, Sofía
Segments: "Big Bird’s Comfy-Cozy Nest," "Give Yourself a Hug," "I Can Feel Safe," "I Can Let My Feelings Out," "I Can Do It," "I Can Calm Myself Down," "Slow Down and Settle Down," "Count, Breathe, Relax"
English and Spanish versions filmed. Alan and Sofía appear in the English language segments, while Sofía is the sole human character in the Spanish segments.
You Matter Most
You Matter Most: Elmo and Louie look up seeing shapes in the clouds. Elmo lets his daddy know that he's important to him. Elmo and Louie then talk directly to the adult viewers, saying they're important to their children, and the things they do, big or small, matter.
Waiting Around: Grover shares how squirmy he can get when he has to wait with his mommy in a long line at the supermarket. He segues into a music video song, "I Can Be Patient" from Little Children, Big Challenges.
Move It Out: Grover defines what frustrated means. He tries to list things to do when frustrated, but he can't immediately think of any, which makes him feel frustrated. He vents by jumping and stomping his feet, and then he runs in place until he's no longer frustrated. To show how good he feels, he decides to keep moving by dancing.
Talk It Out: Rosita says that talking things out can help when you have big feelings, but Oscar (Caroll Spinney) isn't willing to share his feelings. Rosita assumes that Oscar just feels grouchy as always, but he corrects her, saying he actually feels annoyed right now. Oscar insists that annoyed is a different feeling from grouchy, as is irritated, and frustrated. He comments to himself that when he says his emotions aloud, he feels great, and he continues to list off more feelings.
Laugh it Out (Using Humor): Grover calls for Elmo, expecting to play with him just after he puts away his clean laundry that his mommy folded. Elmo enters, colliding with Grover and knocking over his laundry. Grover's disappointment turns into fits of laughter when he sees one of his pants on Elmo's head. Grover thanks Elmo for making him laugh. Elmo keeps Grover in stitches by flapping his head around and shouting "wubba-wubba-wubba!"
Hugging It Out (Showing That You Care): Rosita talks about how hugging can help when she has big feelings. She demonstrates with Elmo, who she senses is sad, but he was actually looking at a rock on the ground. Rosita is so happy that Elmo isn't sad, that she gives him another hug, which is too tight. To show she's sorry, Rosita gives Elmo a gentler hug. Elmo hugs her back for no particular reason other than he likes hugs.