UNC-TV Reaches Out to Families Hurt by Hurricane Matthew


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Image courtesy of Sesame Street

Hurricane Matthew roared through NC leaving devastation in its path. Just over a month and a half later, many families are still struggling to piece their lives back together. In the Triangle area, we were left with power outages and some flooded roadways but nothing like the eastern part of our state. The Monday after the storm, our team at UNC-TV huddled in response mode and was ready to be there for our neighbors. When it came to helping North Carolina families, we immediately knew where to turn ... to our friend and partner Sesame Workshop, the producers of Sesame Street. 

The folks at Sesame Workshop know how to tackle tough topics with young audiences and, sure enough, they developed a guide to help families coping with recovery after a storm.  The bilingual guide is interactive and includes activities and tips for parents and caregivers to use to help provide comfort and assurance to the young children in their life. Through our efforts, we were able to partner with multiple organizations to distribute hard copies of the guide to those in need across Eastern North Carolina.  Even though our distribution efforts were successful and we were able to reach so many families, we realize that our response was just a small contribution to a much larger effort in providing support to those impacted by this historic storm. 

More than 27,000 school age children in North Carolina are homeless according to data from the North Carolina Homeless Education Program. That number existed well before Hurricane Matthew. Not only are many of those children especially stricken after this disaster, but the storm itself displaced new families and now countless more children need support. These kids are not just deprived of the essentials of dailylife, but often their emotional well-being has been compromised. Now, more than ever, they need to feel embraced by not just the grown-ups in their lives but also by their peers.

Image courtesy of Sesame Street

At UNC-TV, the core of our children’s programming and services is acting as a trusted source that promotes social and emotional skills to children and families. Kids learn to draw their feelings to help them feel better from a kind little tiger named Daniel in "Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood." They develop appreciation and understanding while being inspired to take things apart and be curious alongside an inquisitive monkey named George in the popular series, "Curious George."  Our mission is not only to provide for North Carolina's youth and their families through educational programs like "Curious George," but also through community involvement and service.

As tragic as Hurricane Matthew was for our state, it presents an opportunity for us all to demonstrate empathy in action by coming together to help our neighbors in need.  And, we hope to inspire you to take a page from Daniel Tiger’s book and be a good neighbor and help others, “It’s such a good feeling.”.There are so many ways to reach out and be a part of the effort.  Visit our website for a collection of resources and information, including a digital version of the Sesame Street family guide. Take a peek and share with those you love!

Joy Potts is a mother of two and channel director for Rootle, UNC-TV’s 24/7 PBS KIDS channel

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