Sesame Street Karli’s Life Box

Sesame Street in Communities Takes on the Opioid Crisis

Sesame Street, beloved PBS children’s show, has never shied away from difficult topics; now it is taking on the opioid crisis with “Sesame Street in Communities.” To combat this crisis, nonprofit Sesame Workshop has introduced Karli – a Muppet living in foster care due to her mother’s addiction – who will be featured in new episodes alongside 10-year-old Salia Woodbury who shares her story to give hope and comfort those struggling with an addicted parent.

Sesame Street has created Karli’s life box, a collection of resources designed to provide children with an understanding of parental addiction and its potential effects. According to Sherrie Westin, president of social impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, this box includes videos, talking points, books and other age-appropriate materials.

Sesame Workshop collaborated with many therapists and other child service providers to create Karli’s life box, Westin revealed. These professionals helped the company craft age-appropriate language and consult with individuals such as Salia Woodbury to help the character be understood by kids living in families where one parent struggles with addiction, according to Westin.

Sesame Workshop is working to raise awareness about an issue many adults are unaware of: the number of children living in families where one or both parents struggle with substance use disorder. Estimates suggest that 1 out of every 8 children in America has at least one parent living with this condition.

Two and half years after Sesame Street first revealed that green-haired Muppet Karli was in foster care, she finally made an appearance on the show in May 2019. That episode focused on Karli’s mother being a heroin addict.

Now that Karli is a regular on the show, her story is being told through new episodes with Elmo and Abby Cadabby. In these conversations, Karli opens up about her mom’s addiction, while the kids offer advice to help her cope.

When Karli inquires if her mom will ever recover, Elmo assures her that it is important for her to keep away from substances which cause her harm. Additionally, he informs Karli that her mom attends meetings and receives support from other parents in recovery.

In addition to helping kids comprehend the issue, the video series also encourages them to think creatively and solve problems. When their airplane runs out of cardboard, they try a different approach in order to make it fly.

They even discover a spinner in Abby’s garden that they can use for the propeller, showing that problem-solving can take place no matter the situation.

Sesame Street has been using this approach for decades to help children learn about numbers, colors and shapes. It’s an effective way to teach kids how to solve problems while having fun.

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