'Sesame Street' addresses addiction epidemic: 'We're not alone'

Esequiel Farfan
Octubre 10, 2019

"Having a parent battling addiction can be one of the most isolating and stressful situations young children and their families face".

Karli says she goes to a special meeting for kids where they can share their experiences.

Sesame Workshop is exploring the backstory of Karli, a bright green, yellow-haired friend of Elmo's whose mother is battling addiction.

Salia's mother, who suffered with her own addiction, celebrated the Muppet's new backstory in an interview with NBC News. "But now I've met other kids like Salia and we can talk about it together", Karli says while introducing a clip of Salia.

About 5.7 million children in the United States under the age of 11 live with a parent who suffers from substance addiction, according to the Associated Press.

"Yeah, a sickness that makes people feel like they have to take drugs or drink alcohol to feel OK", the Muppet said.

Sesame Workshop is addressing the issue of addiction.

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Viewers then meet her parents as her mom reveals, "We had to leave for 60 days to go get help because we wanted you to have a good life, but first we had to take of ourselves so that we could do that". "It makes me feel like we're not alone", Karli explained.

"Right, we're not alone", Salia responded. "And it's OK to open up to people about our feelings".

During the shoot, both Woodbury and Karli held pictures of flowers that represented feelings like anger, sadness and happiness. The segment also offers tip on how to cope when a parent has an addiction, including breathing exercises or art. Creators prefer "addiction" to "substance abuse" and "recovery" to "sobriety" because those terms are clearer to children.

"It kind of takes away the stigma and the judgement and encourages people to be open-minded", she expressed. "Sesame Street has always been a source of comfort to children during the toughest of times, and our new resources are created to break down the stigma of parental addiction and help families build hope for the future".

Children's therapist Jerry Moe, the national director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Children's Program, helped craft the segments and resources, saying he was grateful to help since there's been a paucity of resources for the preschool age-group. 'For them to see Karli and learn that it's not their fault and this stuff is hard to talk about and it's OK to have these feelings, that's important. It has also featured muppets on the autism spectrum, kids who are bullied, and kids who have parents in jail.

"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", Westin told The Associated Press.

Salia's parents, Sam and Jaana Woodbury, are raising four girls in Orange County, Calif. They've been in recovery for about eight years. I didn't have any connection to the outside world, ' said Jaana Woodbury. "'I think it's unbelievable that 'Sesame Street" is using their platform to share resources to help other women and fathers'.

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