EDITORIAL: Sesame Street’s step in right direction

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EDITORIAL: Sesame Street’s step in right direction

Ten-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery, with “Sesame Street” character Karli.

Ten-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery, with “Sesame Street” character Karli.

Flynn Larsen | Sesame Workshop via AP

Ten-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery, with “Sesame Street” character Karli.

Flynn Larsen | Sesame Workshop via AP

Flynn Larsen | Sesame Workshop via AP

Ten-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery, with “Sesame Street” character Karli.

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It seems there is a constant conversation surrounding the opioid epidemic and adults with substance use disorder, but how often do we think of the children affected by these issues? Thanks to Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit education organization from Sesame Street, and the Sesame Street in Communities initiative, the conversation about parental addiction can get a little bit easier.

Karli, one of the newest Muppets featured on the classic children’s show, was introduced earlier this year as being in foster care. Now, in a new series of videos, it is revealed that Karli’s birth mother is recovering from substance use disorder. In one segment, she’s talking with Elmo about her mom’s “grown up problem.” Elmo reassures Karli that it isn’t her fault and that she should not feel responsible. 

What a great and impactful moment that is for kids. In its 50-year history, Sesame Street has never shied away from issues that affect children, and they always offer teachable moments. This is no different. 

In another video clip, Karli introduces Salia, a girl whose real parents are in recovery.

“My new friend Salia is a very special friend, her mom and dad had the same problem as my mom — addiction. When my mom was having a hard time, I had lots of feelings. I felt like I was the only one, but now I’ve met other kids like Salia, and we can talk about it together,” Karli said in the segment.

The real-world example of Salia can further help children understand substance use and recovery. They can know that they’re not alone.

“In the United States, there are 5.7 million children under age 11, or one in eight children, living in households with a parent who has a substance abuse disorder—a number that doesn’t include the countless children not living with a parent due to separation or divorce, incarceration, or death as a result of their addiction,” according to a news release from Sesame Workshop.

We’re doing a lot to help those dealing with substance use disorder; there are many programs, especially in Huntington, that assist those on the road to recovery and ensure that recovery is long-term and effective. 

But now we need to focus on how we can help children, which may be something that has been overlooked before. Thanks to Sesame Street, that conversation can finally happen. 

“(W)hat she does, and the resources do, is provide information on helping children understand that they’re not alone, that there’s support for them, that it’s also not their fault and more importantly that they can talk about this issue and have someone explain it to them that’s child appropriate,” Jeanete Betancourt, a senior vice president of US Social Impact for Sesame Workshop, said in a release.

Sesame Workshop segments featuring Karli, as well as Salia, discussing substance use and foster care can be found online.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national helpline is 1-800-662-HELP.  

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