Sesame Street Takes on Addiction in New Storyline, Shares Real Story of a Child Born Into Addiction

Sesame Street has introduced its viewers to a new character named Karli. And her storyline is very different than anything Sesame Street has tackled before. As a video from the show’s official YouTube page reveals, Karli’s mom is struggling with addiction and as a result, Karli has been in and out of foster care.

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In the video, the green and yellow-haired muppet is seen talking to her friends about what her mom is going through and why she’s attending “a meeting.” After Elmo asks, “What meeting did Karli’s mommy have to go to?” Their babysitter, Chris, explains how the meeting is helping her mom get better.

“Well buddy, Karli’s mom has been having a hard time. So in order to help her get better, she goes to a meeting with her group. They all sit in a circle.”

Karli is then heard getting into more detail about her mom’s struggle with addiction. Clearly uncomfortable talking about the difficult situation, Karli explains to Elmo that rather than singing in the circle, her mom and her group talk about “grown-up” problems.

“You see, well, my mom needs help learning to take better care of herself. So she talks to people with the same problem.”

After getting a better understanding of what Karli’s mom is going through, Elmo admits that he also feels better when he talks about his problems with someone too. Karli gets excited about Elmo’s understanding of what she and her mom are going through and says she also goes to a “special kids only” meeting to do the same.

Karli also explained how she used to feel like her mom’s “problems” were her fault. She admitting to feeling responsible for her mom’s struggles.

Elmo later extended his hand to Karli to let her know she isn’t alone and that she can always rely on him to be there for her. And in a separate video, Karli introduces the viewers to “a very special” friend named Salia Woodbury. Salia’s parents are going through the same thing as her mom.

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In addition to Karli’s story, 10-year-old Salia talked about the time when her parents had to go away for 60 days and she had to live with her grandparents. “My parents were struggling through a bad time with addiction. They had to go to a place to help them feel better. […] My mom and dad got treatment and that makes me feel happier for them.”

Karli and Salia even got together to talk about their stories together. The pair took solace in knowing that they aren’t alone in what they are going through. And reassured each other that it’s okay to open about how they are feeling.

As Deadline reports, the videos are meant to help and encourage adults to talk to children about addiction. According to Deadline, roughly 5.7 million children under age 11 live in households with a parent with a substance use disorder.

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