Sesame Street has been a staple of children’s television for almost 44 years. As entertaining as it is educational, Sesame Street has skillfully helped children understand confusing or scary life experiences such as divorce and death, as well as learn letters and numbers. Now, Sesame has tackled yet another timely topic that has become more common in the lives of so many children in America, having a parent who is incarcerated.
The CBS news magazine show Sunday Morning aired a story on June 9 that mixes the experiences of a real family’s struggle to cope with the fact that their mother is in prison, with the creation of a fictional character, Alex, whose father is incarcerated. The Sesame Street Workshop produced a 30 minute documentary that will be used by professionals working with children of incarcerated parents. Alex articulates some of the fear, confusion and shame associated with being the child of a prisoner. Alex was created so that children of incarcerated parents can realize that their situation is not unique, and the short film in which he is featured will present coping and support mechanisms that are designed for children
At this time there is no plan to incorporate Alex into the cast of Muppets currently seen on television, but the creation of a character that children with a parent behind bars can identify with is a breakthrough. With so many children like Alex living in neighborhoods across the country, maybe one day this Muppet will be a stock character that is used to educate children without an incarcerated parent about a situation their playmates are facing every day.
Source: CURE National