Opioid abuse has long been a widespread problem in America — about 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Part of the strategy to fight this epidemic is spreading awareness, and Sesame Street is doing just that with a new story for their character, Karli.
The yellow-haired muppet’s story was created to help children impacted by parental addictions with opioids or other substances. Through her character, Sesame Street wants to offer hope and resilience-building strategies for affected kids and families.
In the US, 1 in 8 children live in a household with a parent who struggles with addiction. This number doesn’t include children not living with their parents due to the effects of their addiction — separation, divorce, incarceration, or death.
“Addiction is often seen as a ‘grown-up’ issue, but it impacts children in ways that aren’t always visible. Having a parent battling addiction can be one of the most isolating and stressful situations young children and their families face,” said Sherrie Westin, President of Social Impact and Philanthropy for Sesame Workshop, in a press statement.
Karli is no stranger to the Sesame Street audience. In May 2019, she was introduced as a way for the show to discuss foster care with kids. Sesame Street is diving deeper into her backstory; her mother was battling her addiction and left for treatment, leaving Karli in foster care.
In online resources, such as the video linked below, 10-year-old Salia Woodbury will join Karli to talk about how her parents suffered from opioid addiction and are currently in recovery after treatment. The webpage dedicated to parental addiction includes articles and interactive games that explain addiction to children through Karli.
Jerry Moe, key advisor for the new initiative, said in a press release, “For children who connect to Karli, hearing, ‘It’s not your fault—you are not alone, and there are safe people and places that can help,’ opens a path to hope and healing. This Sesame Street in Communities resource fills a huge void for millions of families hurt by addiction and helps kids be kids again.” ‘
Watch the video below to see Karli in action: