Sesame Street is breaking ground again, this time with a storyline that finds Lily, a Muppet introduced in 2011, having no place to live. The magenta-hued 7-year-old is featured in a series of online episodes in which she reveals to her good pal Elmo news of her family’s experience with homelessness.
“Me and my parents haven’t had a place to stay for a while,” Lily tells Elmo in one of the scenes (she later shares the good news that her family is moving into their “very own apartment.”)
Sesame Workshop announced the Lily storyline as part of a new initiative to “offer help and hope to the growing number of young children across the United States who are experiencing homelessness.” The storyline is featured in new videos, storybooks and interactive activities geared for families with children between 2 and 6 years old, as well as the teachers, social workers and healthcare providers who serve them. (Bilingual materials are available for free at http://www.sesamestreetincommunities.org).
Lily’s storyline, says Sesame Workshop, is designed to “help mitigate the impact of the trauma and stigma that result from homelessness.” When the character was introduced in 2011, she and her family were struggling with hunger, or “food insecurity.” The latest development is indicative of a “cycle of trauma” that includes poverty and domestic violence, says Sherrie Westin, president of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop.
To lessen the stigma surrounding homelessness, the Lily character is presented with strength and optimism and is supported by her friend Elmo. “Together, we got this” becomes the pals’ catchphrase.
In the “Rainbow Kind of Day” video above, Lily shares news of her family’s situation, and in “Ribbons of Hope,” below, she talks of finding an apartment.