‘Sesame Street’ tackles the addiction crisis

Carla Harmon
October 11, 2019

Karli, Elmo, Rosita and Abby Cadabby also sing We're Special and So Are You.

This year, "Sesame Street in Communities" began partnering with The Center For Family Services and The Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey in Camden, providing media resources for families dealing with any of the aforementioned problems.

The series about addiction later introduces Karli's human friend, 10-year-old Salia, whose "mom and dad have the same problem as my mom: addiction".

So it's no surprise that "Sesame Street" has welcomed a new character impacted by the substance abuse crisis. The segment uses language that is easy to understand for Sesame Street's young demographic. The long-running children's show has done a masterful job of explaining life to youngsters.

"My mom needs help learning to take better care of herself, so she talks to people with the same problem", Karli says.


'I know it feels awkward because people don't normally have conversations standing shoulder-to-shoulder, ' she told Salia between takes. "And they're proud of me, for just being me", she said in the video.

"When I was going through addiction, I felt extremely alone and isolated".

Salia shares what it has been like for her and her little sisters as their parents dealt with their addictions. "I'm proud of Mom and Dad for asking for help and not using drugs and alcohol anymore".

About 192 people die from an opioid overdose every day in the US.

The show said there are 5.7 million children under the age of 11 - one in eight children - who live in households with a parent who has a substance abuse disorder.


That's right, it looks like Sesame Street is endeavoring taking on the opioid crisis in a way that kids can understand. "That's why we chose to address this issue".

Karli's programming and additional resources were tooled with the assistance of a children's therapist who is the director of an addiction and recovery program. "One in three of these children will enter foster care due to parental addiction, a number that has grown by more than 50% in the past decade". Specifically, her mother is battling opioid addiction. "And too often, it can deprive children of their families, a reality evidenced by rising foster care placements", says Scott D. Berns, the president and CEO of the National Institute of Children's Health Quality.

"Karli first and foremost will help children who have a similar situation to feel less alone - and that's so important to children whose parents are struggling".

"Sesame Street" is teaching kids how to talk about an especially hard topic - the opioid crisis. "They tend to avoid it and it's what they need more than anything", Westin told The Associated Press.


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