As Sesame Street gives one of its Muppets a new story, the children’s show continues to confront important issues with viewers.
Lily, a previously introduced character, has become the first homeless puppet on the program in an effort to raise awareness of childhood homelessness. In a heartbreaking moment from a series of online videos, her schoolmates make their way out, but Lily hesitates.
“I miss our apartment and now we don’t have our own place to live,” she says. “And sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever have our own home again.” With help from her friends, she learns that “home is where the love is” and those who love her will always be there to take care of her.
“Lily is the first Muppet we’ve created whose storyline includes that she is experiencing homelessness,” Sherrie Westin, president of global impact and philanthropy for Sesame Workshop, told CNN. “When Lily was first launched, she came out as part of the food insecurity initiative. So she’s not brand new, but this seemed like a really perfect extension of her story, so that we could use her to help children identify with. With any of our initiatives, our hope is that we’re not only reaching the children who can identify with that Muppet but that we’re also helping others to have greater empathy and understanding of the issue.”
With Lily, the show now launches a digital hub on its official website with information about how to talk about homelessness with children. According to CNN, Lily’s story won’t be featured on the television program, but will be expanded across this digital space.
One such video includes a message direct from Elmo: “Elmo has some friends who don’t have a house or an apartment to stay in right now, and that makes Elmo really sad. But Elmo’s mommy said that home can mean a lot of things.”
“With any of our initiatives, our hope is that we’re not only reaching the children who can identify with that Muppet but that we’re also helping others to have greater empathy and understanding of the issue,” Westin said. “The goal is really to give service providers, parents, teachers tools in order to address homelessness with children, in order to talk about it and raise awareness of the issue from a child’s perspective and also to help children experiencing homelessness feel less alone.”