Some of the most valuable work done by the Sesame Street people never even shows up on the regular TV series. That includes their Sesame Street in Communities initiative, which has just introduced new materials covering homelessness, a topic they haven’t covered before.

The new videos, stories, and discussions guides feature a Muppet character named Lily, who was previously introduced in resource materials about families dealing with hunger. Lily and her family have lost their home and find themselves staying with friends. As Sesame Workshop’s Sherrie Westin explained to CNN, “I think we tend to think of homelessness as an adult issue and don’t always look at it through the lens of a child, and we realize that Sesame has a unique ability to do that, to look at tough issues with the lens of a child.”

Lily’s story is presented in videos like this one:

You can read more about the initiative in this CNN article, or on the Sesame Street in Communities website.

Since this was announced yesterday, I’ve been seeing the same questions and comments pop up repeatedly on social media. If you’re seeing them too, feel free to copy and paste these responses:

1. Yes, this is a good topic for Sesame to address, and no, Sesame is not out to traumatize children. Whether we like it or not, there are a lot of homeless people in the US, including children. And most kids will encounter the reality of homelessness at some point. Sesame Workshop’s goal is to help kids understand that reality, and to positively influence their perception of people affected by it.

2. Yes, Lily is the first homeless Sesame Street Muppet, and no, Oscar the Grouch is not homeless. Oscar lives in a trash can by choice, and he loves it. Also, his trash can can fit multiple elephants, and includes a swimming pool and a bowling alley, so he’s not living in poverty. And no one who comes up with the “What about Oscar?” joke is as clever as they think they are.

Click here to talk about Lily on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe –

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