Sesame Street creates homeless storyline

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Sesame Street revealed a new storyline for Muppet Lily on Wednesday.

The children's program first introduced Lily in 2011. She originally portrayed food insecurity as part of a family without consistent access to food. Now, her storyline has changed, and for the first time on Sesame Street, Lily represents a homeless child.

Her journey is not being aired on TV episodes of "Sesame Street" right now. Instead, videos of Lily can be found online along with other stories and resources.

"Sesame Street has a history of addressing sensitive topics in different ways," said Sandy Kallunki, Youth Services Manager at the Brown County Library.

Kallunki is not surprised to hear that Sesame Street adopted a storyline to address homelessness. It is an issue she says she sees families experiencing on a regular basis.

"Here in the library, we do have families that come in who are homeless, and they have very young children or very unstable housing," said Kalunki. "They're moving around a lot."

The Freedom House in Green Bay provides housing for families with children. Right now, staff members say rooms are full and they always are.

"We have 14 families right now totaling 38 kiddos, and 18 of them are 5 or under," said Lydia Davison, Volunteer Coordinator at Freedom House.

Davison says the shelter turns away 20 families every day, and each of those families include anywhere from one to five children.

"For kids to be able to see themselves and their life experiences reflected in stories--whether it's video or actually in book--is a way of providing relief that they are not alone, not the only one," said Kallunki. "That there is somebody out there who understands what they're going through."

Kallunki says portraying characters like Lily helps raise an awareness among kids that have never experienced homelessness.

"Hopefully, other students can be more empathetic rather than avoiding that child or calling them names or teasing them or talking about them behind their back," said Kallunki. "That they can be more accepting and also as they get a little older, maybe there is some way they can be helpful."

Freedom House is always looking for volunteers and supplies. For a full list of needs, visit their website.



 
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