Sesame Street is now talking about addiction.
On Wednesday, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, announced an initiative to address the ongoing drug epidemic. In May, the franchise introduced a 6-year-old green Muppet with yellow pig-tails, named Karli – which was the show’s first character living in foster care.
“We’re Not Alone.”
Yesterday, on the online series, Sesame Street in Communities, we learned why Karli is living in foster care. In a series of videos, Karli tells Elmo and other friends that her mom has a “problem” and is in recovery. It turns out Karli was placed in foster care while her mother sought help for her addiction.
In one video, Karli tells Elmo that her mom attends meetings every day to stay healthy and she goes to meetings with other kids to share her own experience.
In Karli’s latest video, she’s seen with 10-year-old, Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery.
“Hi, it’s me, Karli. I’m here with my friend Salia. Both of our parents have had the same problem — addiction,” Karli, who is handled by her puppeteer, told the camera.
“My mom and dad told me that addiction is a sickness,” Salia said.
Karli responded by explaining it as “a sickness that makes people feel like they have to take drugs or drink alcohol to feel OK.”
“My mom was having a hard time with addiction and I felt like my family was the only one going through it,” the puppet continued. “But now I’ve met so many other kids like us. It makes me feel like we’re not alone.”
1 in 8
The franchise’s campaign comes as a breath of fresh air as the drug epidemic continues to plague the country, overcast by the shuttering statistics: At least 130 people die everyday from overdosing on opioids.
And with adults overdosing, oftentimes children are involved.
According to data provided by Sesame Workshop, there are 5.7 million children under the age of 11 (one in eight children) that live in households with a parent who has a substance abuse disorder. They continued noting that one in three of these children will enter foster care due to parental addiction, a number that has grown by more than 50% in the past decade.
The new initiative includes seven new videos, a storybook, a coloring activity and articles that families and providers can use to talk to children about addiction, including important questions that children may have, including what addiction is and how adults get treated. These resources will be available in English and Spanish.
“Addiction is often seen as a ‘grown-up’ issue, but it impacts children in ways that aren’t always visible. Having a parent battling addiction can be one of the most isolating and stressful situations young children and their families face,” said Sherrie Westin, president of Social Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop. “Sesame Street has always been a source of comfort to children during the toughest of times, and our new resources are designed to break down the stigma of parental addiction and help families build hope for the future.”
Addiction is seen as a “grown-up issue” but it impacts children in ways that often aren’t visible. Take a look at our new resources that help the whole family cope and build hope for the future. https://t.co/q0DfjcLE0A #SunnyDaysAhead pic.twitter.com/xshx5ixIpp
— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) October 10, 2019