While addiction is a “grown-up issue,” it impacts children in ways that are not visible. Sesame Street in Communities tackles parental addiction in a way that is gentle and loving through two sweet and loving characters. Karli is a 6 ½ year old Muppet whose mom has struggled with addiction and had to live in foster care while her mom received treatment. Salia is a ten year old, the oldest of four girls whose parents both went to a 60 day treatment center. Sesame Street welcomes these girls into the Sesame Street community to discuss the reality of addiction in the home, the pain children experience, and the hope and healing families can enjoy once parents are healthier.
Sesame Street in Communities will also host resources on parental addiction on its website. These tools are designed to foster resilience, hope, and optimism for children and families. Sesame Street in Communities strives to unite communities, foster families’ and kids’ resilience, nurture their physical and mental health, and provide critical early learning opportunities through its library of bi-lingual multimedia tools.
NACoA CEO/President Sis Wenger: “NACoA is grateful that children living with parental addiction worldwide will benefit for a longtime to come from this extraordinary project. We have been privileged and proud to work with Sesame Street to bring helpful messages from the Muppets to children of all ages who have parents struggling with this devastating disease. Children and families will be able identify with these characters and recognize they are not alone, that there are caring adults that can help them, and that asking for help is the first step. We hope that parents, grandparents, and other caring adults watch episodes and explore the resources with children who are being impacted by parental addiction. In doing so, they will help the children break the ‘NO TALK’ rule that has trapped them into silence and isolation for far too long.”
Some short videos are available on the Sesame Street in Communities YouTube channel. Simple but powerful themes are shared through conversations with Elmo and other friends in the Sesame Street neighborhood.
Lending A Hand: “My Mom needs help to take better care of herself so she talks to people with the same problem … And so I go to a special ‘Kids Only’ meeting. Our parents all have the same problem. We sit in a circle and hold hands and we sing.”
Meet Salia: “When my Mom was having a hard time, I had lots of big feelings. I thought I was the only one. But now I’ve met other kids like Salia and we can talk about it together.”
We’re Special and So Are You: “I am important. We are special and so are you.”
It’s Not Your Fault: “I used to feel like a lot of things were my fault. Especially my Mom’s problem. But she told me “No, it was a grown up problem. It wasn’t because of anything I did. And she said that she loves me, no matter what!”
NACoA will post regular updates in the weeks and months ahead on social media. To stay connected with this initiative, visit Sesame Street social media channels: @SesameStreetInCommunities (Facebook) @SesameCommunity (Twitter) @SesameStreet (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). When posting, use #SunnyDaysAhead.
NACoA thanks National Director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Children's Program Jerry Moe for his contribution to this important initiative.