Move over cookie monster, and catch ya later Big Bird. There is a new muppet in town. A muppet whose character and personality are cast in the midst of a nationwide issue.
Lily, a 7-year-old poverty-stricken pink muppet, was created in hopes that her issue will sweep away the global concern of homelessness with rainbows and sunshine, as in the Sesame Street show.
Photo: Matt Collamer on Unsplash
The creation of this bright and bold muppet was brought to fruition in 2011, where she spread awareness for food insecurity. Now seven years later, she shares alongside Elmo and Sofia, a community care center worker. She worries about not having a stable home environment. “We don’t have our own apartment anymore and we’ve been staying in all different kind of places,” Lily explains.
This segment featuring Lily is part of a Sesame Street in Communities initiative. This program offers virtual educational learning and creative storybooks to help the many children who are living in a poverty-stricken atmosphere.
"When Lily was first launched, she came out as part of the food insecurity initiative. So she's not brand new, but this seemed like a really perfect extension of her story, so that we could use her to help children identify with," said Sherrie Westin, president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop. "With any of our initiatives, our hope is that we're not only reaching the children who can identify with that Muppet, but that we're also helping others to have greater empathy and understanding of the issue.”
This soft-spoken and relatively reserved muppet differs from the traditional group like Elmo and Zoe, who are vibrantly upbeat and positive. Lilly resembles the same qualities those 15 million children in the United States embody who live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. Lily’s character,worrying about what will be her next meal or where she will live, is reminiscent of the growing problem facing our nation.
Jasmine Romero, the actress behind Sofia in Sesame Street, is featured in Sesame Workshop’s homelessness campaign. She heartwarmingly assures children nationwide that “love is wherever the love lies, and you can take that love and hope with you wherever you go,” according to USA Today.
This is not the first time the tactic of “humanizing muppets” has been implemented. It was only last year when the new muppet Julia was cast in Sesame Street, a muppet who has autism.
Like Lily, Julia was also part of an initiative set forth by Sesame Street to relate to children who may be experiencing a similar situation like their highly-coveted muppet characters whom they admire. “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” was progulated in 2015, extending resources for children and parents to create a more adaptable and inclusive community with those who have autism.
The creation of Lily is paramount in childhood television history for addressing the transcending misfortune of poverty. Children can now be assured that they are not alone with Sesame Street’s push for a social change. Lily will serve as an ambassador to all, in hopes of painting away the prominent picture of poverty.
Victoria Giardina is an 18 student at The College of New Jersey pursuing a Major in Journalism and Professional Writing with a Minor in Communication Studies. Victoria's favorite movie is The Greatest Showman and you can never find her without her planner! As the founder of Kick It Cancer (www.kickitcancer.org) and a news anchor for her campus-wide news station- LTV News, Victoria steps up for community outreach, leadership, and creative storytelling. In the future, Victoria hopes to work in the broadcasting industry in New York City.