Lily, the shy, 7-year-old, fuchsia muppet who first appeared on Sesame Street in 2011, is back, thanks to a helping hand from Family Promise and a few other friends.
Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC), a program of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces Sesame Street, has launched a suite of online resources to help Family Promise and other providers better serve children experiencing homelessness. When they decided to tackle the issue, they engaged Family Promise, the nation’s leading nonprofit addressing family homelessness, as one of their expert advisors. The result is a remarkable collection of bilingual materials for Family Promise Affiliates, parents, caregivers, and other providers to help children cope with the trauma of losing their home. The books, videos, articles, and exercises are available on SSIC’s website and on YouTube.
For the very first time, a muppet is experiencing homelessness on Sesame Street. Lily, who we met seven years ago as a food-insecure child, has now lost her home. Lily and her parents are staying with their friend, Sofia, a real-life character in the videos played by the actress Jasmine Romero. Through a series of activities, videos and “We Got This,” a children’s book written by children’s author Kama Einhorn, we see Sofia help Lily come to terms with her family’s situation and learn not to let it define the way she thinks about herself.
“Sesame Street has been a champion of inclusivity, awareness, and advocacy for all children. We are thrilled to see this effort to provide a resource to children and families affected by homelessness, and as importantly those who engage with them in schools and elsewhere,” said Family Promise CEO Claas Ehlers. “Working with Sesame Street, on these materials and at our National Conference, aligns our visions and brings two leading organizations together to address the issue of homelessness for children holistically.”
Family Promise will make the resources available to our 200+ Affiliates nationwide, incorporating them into case management and sharing them with partner agencies. Designed not only for families experiencing homelessness and their providers, the materials also aim to reduce the stigma of homelessness that too often informs the public perception of these children and their parents.
You can read more about the venture in this New York Times story.
Family homelessness continues to increase, with public schools reporting 1.3 million children and youth experiencing homelessness in the 2016-17 school year—a 70% increase over the past decade. Overall, 2.5 million children will experience homelessness this year in America, with more than half of them under the age of six.
The collaboration between Family Promise, with our 30-year history of community engagement, and Sesame Street, with its nearly 50-year commitment to addressing kids’ developmental, physical, and emotional needs, holds the potential of being a transformative step in the effort to raise awareness and support for families experiencing homelessness.
To further broaden the relationship, Sesame Workshop has accepted an invitation to the Family Promise National Conference in San Antonio, Texas, April 11-13. They will conduct a media workshop, give an inspirational talk, and provide printed copies of their “We Got This” book for conference attendees.