Sesame Street has never been shy about taking on controversial topics. The iconic educational children's series is now taking on addiction. Elmo has a new friend named Karli and her mom is struggling with addiction of some kind, but we learn that she is working on it by going to meetings everyday with other people who share the same problem. It's laid out in a way only Sesame Street can deliver and it should go a long way in helping kids who are going through a similar situation at home, or help kids understand and be more tolerate of others who could be struggling.
In the Sesame Street clip, Karli tells Elmo about her mom and her meetings, while revealing that she also goes to meetings that end with holding hands and singing a song. This is definitely something the little red Muppet can get behind as he begins to understand that not everybody is as happy as he is. The Karli character looks tired and seems like she has been through a lot by the sound of her voice.
Karli was first introduced back in May as "the face of the Sesame Street in Communities foster care initiative." Karli's storyline has since expanded to explain "that she was placed in foster care when her mother went away for treatment for addiction and she is now in recovery." The decision was inspired in part by the continuing opioid crisis, where an average of 130 people die every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Around 5.7 million children under the age of eleven have a parent that is struggling with addiction, so Sesame Street decided to take action to help inform.
Sesame Street has taken on divorce, incarceration, homelessness, and even disabilities when a character was introduced with autism. As for Karli's story, it isn't featured on the normal show, it is only available online, though it is completely free and no subscription is necessary. Sherrie Westin, President of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop had this to say about Karli's storyline in a statement.
"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."
Sesame Street has been educating children and families since November 1969. In 2018, it was estimated that 86 million Americans had watched the series as children, which continues to grow every day. It was also revealed in 2018 that the long-running series has won 189 Emmy Awards and 11 Grammy Awards. This is far more than any other children's show in history. Recently, the show has been tackling controversial topics to great effect and children, along with their families, have been responding well to them. The clip of Karli talking to Elmo about treatment and meetings comes to us from the WKMG News6 YouTube channel.