This is the first Muppet to experience homelessness.
Seven-year-old Lily was first introduced by Sesame Workshop in 2011 and was described as facing “food insecurity.” Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind “Sesame Street,” then expended Lily’s narrative after requests from community partners.
“We’re giving children who are experiencing this a character they can identify with, helping them feel less alone,” explained Global Impact and Philanthropy President Sherrie Westin. “But equally important, we’re helping raise awareness of the issue, both for adults, for teachers, for caregivers, as well as other children, in the hopes that they may be be more understanding, have more empathy, be more compassionate.”
2.5 million children are currently experiencing homelessness nationwide and 1.2 million of those children are under the age of six.
Lily’s experiences are captured in online videos and literature, which caregivers and adults reference while dealing with homelessness. The content is free and bilingual and joins other guides by Sesame Workshop geared to help families dealing with traumatic experiences like military deployment or addiction.
The priority of these characters is to be shown to targeted audiences who will best benefit from their message and education.
There is precedent for characters to appear on primetime TV. Julia, a Muppet born with autism, was first introduced in 2015 and made her TV debut on “Sesame Street” in April 2017.