Sesame Street introduces homeless character
Sesame Street has introduced a homeless character named Lily to mitigate the impact of the trauma for young children without a permanent place to live.
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organisation behind the children’s TV show, announced a new initiative to tackle the growing number of homeless children in the US.
Lily, a seven-year-old Muppet whose family is staying with friends on Sesame Street after losing their home, is featured in new videos, storybooks, and interactive activities for families with children aged two to six.
In one of the episodes, Lily is sad that all her friends have gone home after a play date and she has no home to go to.
She says: “Everyone else is going home and I miss our apartment and now we don’t have our place to live and sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever have our own home again.”
Other clips show Lily down about being reminded of things that she had at home, like the colour purple, which was the same as her old bedroom.
But each one delivers the message that the important thing about a home is that it is full of people who love you, even if it is not a permanent place to live.
They are designed to show the experience from a child’s perspective, with Lily and her friends encouraging optimism, promoting understanding, and modelling simple coping strategies for children.
Sherrie Westin, president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, said: “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.”
Sesame Workshop says more than 2.5 million children are experiencing homelessness in the US with nearly half of them – 1.2 million – under the age of six.
In 2017, Sesame Street introduced an autistic character to the show’s cast called Julia – a “smiley, curious” four-year-old who loves to play.