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‘Sesame Street’ Muppet Teaches About Homelessness

January 7, 2019

by Ileen Henderson, National Director of Bright Spaces

“Sesame Street” is featuring its first homeless Muppet, Lily. Lily is 7 years old and her family is “staying with friends on Sesame Street after losing their home,” 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,” 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.”

Whenever people contemplate childhood homelessness, experts say, it’s important to understand that such kids are usually experiencing extreme toxic stress that can hinder brain growth and the development of other organs. That makes homelessness a serious issue for the health of children. The National Center on Family Homelessness reports that 2.5 million children are homeless each year in America, or one out of every 30 U.S. children, and almost half of them are kids under six-years-old.

Starting this week, Lily will appear in videos, a storybook, and other digital content. All are available online and are targeted toward service providers who help people living in homelessness, as well as to parents and teachers who work with children experiencing homelessness to help them to better understand what children are going through and to develop strategies to support them. Although Lily will not be seen on televised episodes of “Sesame Street,” she can be seen at sesamestreetincommunities.org.

Lily will be an important character to combat the stigma of homelessness “that really does stick with kids.” Advocates are eager to use the new materials to increase the identification of children who are homeless in early childhood and educational settings, to increase support for children in homeless services and housing programs, and to raise the visibility of family homelessness among policymakers at every level.” Read the full CNN article here.