Sesame Street, the immensely popular puppet variety show which has been a part of US TV since 1969, has continued to break down cultural barriers and to introduce sensitive, essential topics to children of all ages for decades. The Muppets forerunner has famously handled such topics such as death, multiculturalism, autism and more besides with trademark sensitivity and charm, and it has recently announced that one of its main cast will face storylines with regard to homelessness. For millions of children worldwide, homelessness is a very real, day to day problem – and the Sesame Workshop aims to offer an insight into homeless life through its simple, yet surprisingly deep storylines and characters.
Lily, a muppet character created for the show in 2011, will appear in stories and media online which will explore her homelessness journey. It is thought, according to CNN, that the character’s storylines will not be explored to this regard via TV episodes as yet, but will instead begin life via the Sesame Workshop’s many online initiatives. This latest choice in programming arrives as part of the Workshop’s ongoing Sesame Street in Communities commitment.
'Sesame Street' Features Show's First Homeless Character [video]
Speaking on behalf of the brand and as acting President of Global Impact and Philanthropy for the Workshop, Sherrie Westin confirms that Lily is indeed the first character on the show to experience homelessness – and that her upcoming stories will bring a new sense of awareness of this very real problem to millions of children and adults worldwide.
“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 confirmed.
“I think we tend to think of homelessness as an adult issue and don’t always look at it through the lens of a child, and we realize that Sesame has a unique ability to do that, to look at tough issues with the lens of a child.”
553,742 people were homeless during one single night in the US in 2017, according to statistics from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is in addition to worrying news that around 1 in 20 children under the age of six years old experienced homelessness in one form or another between 2014 and 2015. With child homelessness continuing to prove to be a genuine problem, the first step to improving conditions for so many people is to raise awareness – who better to start than Sesame Street?
'Sesame Street' Depicts Homelessness For The First Time [video]