'Sesame Street' Launches New Videos Addressing the Opioid Crisis

Leila Kozma - Author

Aug. 3 2020, Updated 3:51 p.m. ET

Sesame Street
Source: Getty

The cast members of Sesame Street.

One out of eight children under the age of 11 has a parent who struggled with opioid addiction, reveals the estimates by the Sesame Street in Communities initiative. 

Unlike other educational resources, the new videos and texts are designed specifically with kids in mind. Featuring Sesame Street characters like Abby Cadabby, Elmo, and new cast members, Karli and Salia, they tackle the stigma surrounding the topic. 

Sesame Street, the opioid crisis, and Abby Cadabby, all in one? We want to know more.

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sesame street opioid crisis
Source: Getty

'Sesame Street' cast members.

What exactly is Sesame Street in Communities? 

Sesame Street in Communities features resources that help kids cope with transformative life events, like the divorce of their parents, or probing life circumstances, like being raised by veterans. The workshop also offers guidance on the how-tos of coping with the symptoms of asthma or autism spectrum disorder, alongside explainers on life challenges like the birth of a brother or sister.

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Meet the new Sesame Street characters tackling the opioid crisis topic:

The new resources comprise of animated clips featuring the yellow-haired, purple-nosed, green-furry Karli describe the hardships of parental addictions. An additional set of interviews about the life story of the honorary cast member, the 10-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents struggled with opioid addiction for years and years.

"I want [kids] to know that we're not alone, we'll all feel our big feelings inside, we're strong and we can work together," Salia emphasizes in one of the clips. 

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Source: Getty

Elmo, Grover and Abby Cadabby from 'Sesame Street'.

Wait. Haven't we seen Karli the Muppet before? 

That's correct. Karli first appeared on Sesame Street during Season 49, in an episode about what's it like to be raised in foster care. 

The new videos see the straw-haired Muppet expand on her childhood memories in greater detail. For the first time, she opens up about the shame and stigma surrounding her parents' opioid addiction. 

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"I love my mom so much, and she couldn't take good care of me because she was having such a tough time," Karli lets us in on the difficulties she experienced during her childhood years in one of the videos. The otherwise loud, forthright, cheerful character is visibly at sea with the topic. In a conversation with Abby Cadabby, her voice cracks, pausing mid-sentence to gather her courage before being able to continue again. 

The videos shed light on the impact of the shame these kids experienced from a young age. The program aims to tackle the stigma, build a community of like-minded people and encourage kids to develop new coping mechanisms. 

“For everything we’ve done — from military families to homelessness — it’s all about how to make children free to talk and to give parents the tools to do just that. They tend to avoid it and it’s what they need more than anything,” emphasized Sherrie Rollins Westin, the president of global impact and philanthropy of Sesame Workshop. 

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