But they’re now tackling a much more unexpected issue: incarceration.
Meet Alex, the first Muppet to have a dad in jail. According to a Pew Charitable Trusts report, one in 28 children in the United States now has a parent behind bars -- more than the number of kids with a parent who is deployed -- so it’s a real issue, but it’s talked about far less because of the stigma.
Alex is blue-haired and green-nosed and he wears a hoodie – you might think he’s just another carefree inhabitant of Sesame Street. But there’s sorrow in Alex’s voice when he talks about his father.
“I just miss him so much,” he tells a friend. “I usually don’t want people to know about my Dad.”
It’s easier for kids to hear such things from a Muppet than an adult, creators of the initiative noted.
“Coming from a Muppet, it’s almost another child telling their story to the children,” said Jeanette Betancourt, vice president of outreach and educational practices at the Sesame Workshop.
Alex will not be part of the regular cast on “Sesame Street,” but he’s playing a central role in the online tool kit.
“There are several million children impacted by incarceration in this country,” Burton said. “No one is paying attention to them.”
The project and its unusual subject matter have garnered a lot of attention, with some observers calling it a sign of the times.
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