One of Sesame Street‘s newest muppets is bringing a new, difficult topic to the friendly children’s show. Earlier this year the show introduced a muppet named Karli who moved in with a foster family because her mom was “having a hard time.” They’ve now released a series of videos that explain the reason for Karli’s stay with her “for now” family is that her mother struggles with addiction.
In these new videos, she tells Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and other friends that her mom had to go away for treatment and that she’s now in recovery. She also says that her mom goes to meetings with others who have the same issues to help stay healthy.
“My mom needs help learning to take better care of herself,” she said in one video. “So she talks to people with the same problem.” Karli also shares that she attends groups that have other children with parents who suffer from addiction issues.
The show created the character after data showed that 5.7 million U.S. children, that’s one in eight kids, under the age of 11 live with a parent dealing with substance abuse problems. That amount doesn’t include children who aren’t living with a parent due to separation or divorce, incarceration or death as a result of their addiction.
“When you understand the impact it has on young children, and the trauma that it can cause … you realize why it’s so important that we’re creating tools to help address these issues,” said Sesame Workshop President of Social Impact and Philanthropy, Sherrie Wilson.
Along with the videos online, the initiative features activities and resources for both children and caregivers in English and Spanish.
“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,” said Jerry Moe, national director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Children’s Program and one of the advisors on the initiative.
The show wants children to know they don’t have to suffer alone and wants to help them cope with any difficult feelings they have regarding the issue.