Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, isn't afraid to keep it real for kids. Last year they introduced Julia, the first muppet with autism. Now they've launched an initiative called Sesame Street in Communities that, amongst other things, will bring the first muppet to experience homelessness. Her name is Lily and she was originally introduced in 2011 as a character whose family was struggling with hunger.
Unfortunately, Lily's path is common for many children experiencing homelessness.
"We know children experiencing homelessness are often caught up in a devastating cycle of trauma—the lack of affordable housing, poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home, the trauma of actually losing their home, and the daily trauma of the uncertainty and insecurity of being homeless," said Sherrie Westin, President of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop. "We want to help disrupt that cycle by comforting children, empowering them, and giving them hope for the future. We want them to know that they are not alone and home is more than a house or an apartment—home is wherever the love lives."
"When Lily was first launched, she came out as part of the food insecurity initiative. So she's not brand new, but this seemed like a really perfect extension of her story, so that we could use her to help children identify with," Westin said. "With any of our initiatives, our hope is that we're not only reaching the children who can identify with that Muppet but that we're also helping others to have greater empathy and understanding of the issue."
Although her journey with homelessness will not appear in televised episodes of "Sesame Street" at this point, she will be in separate videos and materials in the initiative.
"The goal is really to give service providers, parents, teachers tools in order to address homelessness with children, in order to talk about it and raise awareness of the issue from a child's perspective and also to help children experiencing homelessness feel less alone," Westin said.
Bravo, Sesame Workshop!
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