“Sesame Street” is introducing its first homeless Muppet, Lily.
Lily (pictured above) is 7 years old and her family is “staying with friends on Sesame Street after losing their home,” Sesame Workshop said on Wednesday.
She’s not actually a new puppet, however — her situation just got a bit worse.
“Lily was originally introduced in 2011, when her family was struggling with hunger,” Sesame Workshop wrote in its release to media members. “Unfortunately, Lily’s path is common for many children experiencing homelessness.”
Lily, who is described as “resilient and relatable,” will be featured in new videos, storybooks, and interactive activities for families with children ages 2 to 6, in addition to materials for the professionals who serve them, such as teachers, social workers, and healthcare providers. The initiative is part of Sesame Workshop’s “Sesame Street in Communities” program and seeks to “help mitigate the impact of the trauma and stigma that result from homelessness.”
“We know children experiencing homelessness are often caught up in a devastating cycle of trauma — the lack of affordable housing, poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home, the trauma of actually losing their home, and the daily trauma of the uncertainty and insecurity of being homeless,” said Sherrie Westin, president of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop. “We want to help disrupt that cycle by comforting children, empowering them, and giving them hope for the future. We want them to know that they are not alone and home is more than a house or an apartment — home is wherever the love lives.”
Watch some Lily videos below.
Additionally, on Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. ET, “Sesame Street in Communities” will host an interactive conversation with a panel of expert providers to raise nationwide awareness about homelessness, its effects on children, and ways providers can help. Readers can watch and join in on the conversation on Facebook Live and YouTube.
“‘Sesame Street’s’ new initiative on homelessness is nothing short of transformative for those of us working to create a sense of stability and hope for families experiencing homelessness,” said Barbara Duffield, member of Sesame Workshop’s advisory committee and executive director of SchoolHouse Connection, a national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. “At SchoolHouse Connection, we are eager to use the new materials to increase the identification of children who are homeless in early childhood and educational settings, to increase support for children in homeless services and housing programs, and to raise the visibility of family homelessness among policymakers at every level.”
Sesame Workshop shared statistics that say 2.5 million children nationwide are “experiencing homelessness,” and that almost half of them are kids under six-years-old.