Play therapy is a huge tool used when counseling kids, and Sesame Street incorporates it at every turn. From deployment to divorce, the popular and educational kids show has taught kids how to cope with difficult situations. You may be surprised to find out that the latest muppet added on the street is Alex, whose dad is in jail.
You might be even more shocked by the numbers that support the addition of Alex. One in 28 kids in the U.S. have a parent who is in prison, which is even more than those who have a parent who is deployed. As the article notes, it’s not as talked about, as there is of course a real stigma surrounding incarceration.
“I just miss him so much,” the sorrowful muppet tells a friend. “I usually don’t want people to know about my dad.”
While the blue-haired, green-nosed muppet won’t be a regular on Sesame Street, he will be play a central role in the online tool kit, entitled "Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration."
As Alex’s creators point out, it’s easier for kids to hear these types of things from a muppet rather than an adult.
“Coming from a muppet, it’s almost another child telling their story to the children,” Jeanette Betancourt, VP of outreach and educational practices at the Sesame Workshop, told Today.
As executive director of Centerforce, a non-profit that helps families impacted by incarceration, Carol Burton said, “There are several million children impacted by incarceration in this country,” going on to say that, sadly, “No one is paying attention to them.”
These kids are left feeling guilty, sad, or shameful about having a parent in prison, so Ms. Burton says the most important message to send them is that it’s not their fault.
Have you seen Alex yet? What is your thought on Sesame Street incorporating such a muppet?