Sesame Street’s newest character tackles the difficult topic of opioid addiction. Sesame Street resonated with children and adults alike when it first aired on PBS in 1969 and provided a unique view at educational entertainment, with the series combining sketch comedy, animation, and puppetry. The show also gave birth to some of the most iconic characters in TV history, including Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, and Elmo.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Sesame Street is hailed as one of the most successful children’s programs of all time, despite moments of controversy. Sesame Workshop, the organization that produces the children’s show, has created a series of online videos featuring new characters and relevant topics. Last year, Sesame Street tackled the issue of homelessness with a Muppet character named Lily. Earlier this year, Sesame Street introduced Karli, a 6-year-old muppet who lives with a foster family. Elmo’s bright-green puppet friend Karli - handled by puppeteer Hale Jenkins - recently divulged her past experiences and opened up the discussion for very real issues.
Per NBC News Today, Sesame Street presents the issue of opioid addiction to its audience, as Karli reveals she is in foster care due to her mother’s addiction. Appearing in the online initiative thus far, soon to transition to the Sesame Street television show, Karli states, “My mom’s been going through a tough time. She has what’s called a grown-up problem. And grown-ups need grown-ups to help fix the problem, so my mom had to go away for a little while.” Intended to help children understand addiction and cope with emotions, Sesame Street will focus on resilience, coping strategies and emphasis that paternal addiction is not the child’s fault. Check out the video focusing on Karli’s important storyline below:
Sesame Street in Communities is now available in both English and Spanish online. Karli’s segment has yet to appear on the HBO and PBS Sesame Street broadcast. As Karli’s story progresses, audiences will learn her history of being placed in foster care and her mother’s treatment progress. The beloved gang of Sesame Street shows no sign of slowing down as the live-action film adaptation, which stars Oscar-winning Anne Hathaway, is slated for a summer 2021 release.
Opioid addiction has riddled headlines as of late, and Karli’s Sesame Street storyline is a vital tool that can be used to explain to children that addiction is not their fault and they're not alone. The educational programming is currently the best resource to simplify complicated issues and can help the 5.7 million children nationwide under the age of 11 who are dealing with the opioid crisis. No doubt the recent segment will raise awareness and further solidifies the longevity of Sesame Street.
Source: NBC News Today