Sesame Street is introducing a new resident that will help teach children and viewers about the reality of homelessness. Producers of the long-running show say they are hoping this new storyline can help educate and “sweep the clouds away” for a growing number of young children who no longer have a home to call as their own.
According to a press release, Lily is a seven-year-old girl whose family comes to stay with friends when they lose their apartment. Sesame Workshop has expanded Lily's storyline to include that her family has lost their home and now must stay with friends. This homelessness initiative launched Wednesday as part of Sesame Workshop's Sesame Street in Communities program.
Sesame Street is using the color purple for Lily, which happens to be the same shade as her old bedroom. While painting a rainbow mural with Elmo, she tells him about her situation and admits to feeling sad and not wanting to paint anymore. Lily explains to her new friend that she had to leave her room behind because her family doesn’t have their own apartment anymore. She also says that they have been “staying in all different kinds of places.”
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit group behind Sesame Street, said there are more than 2.5 million homeless children across the US, nearly half of whom are under six. As well as the daily hardship of being homeless, those children oftentimes suffer from "poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home," Sherrie Westin of Sesame Workshop said in a statement to the press. "We want [homeless children] to know that they are not alone."
Eagle-eye viewers will notice though that this isn’t Lily’s first appearance on Sesame Street. She made her debut back in 2011 during an episode in which she was feeling hungry because her family didn’t have any food. Lily won't appear in Sesame Street's TV episodes for now, but will feature online via YouTube, and in videos and storybooks on the Sesame Street in Communities website.
And while there is no doubt that many viewers and Sesame Street fans are looking forward to learning more about Lily and her story, others can’t help but wonder about Oscar the Grouch and his own living situation. After all, he’s been stuck in an alley garbage can for the last several decades, right? But then again, the choice might be his. Even though Oscar has been living in a dustbin since the Vietnam War, his favorite song to sing is “I Love Trash.” To each their own, right?