Sesame Street to reveal character has drug-addict mum as show covers tricky subject

10 October 2019, 21:36 | Updated: 10 October 2019, 22:21

Sesame Street is to reveal one of its puppets has a drug-addict mother as it tries to help children affected by the issue.

The bright-green character of Karli was introduced earlier this year as a puppet in foster care and viewers will now learn that her mother has an opioid addiction.

Producers say they are tackling the subject because nearly six million US children under 11 live in households where a parent has a substance problem.

The storyline will appear online as part of the Sesame Street in Communities site.

Ten-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery, joins Karli (voiced by puppeteer Haley Kenkins) in the segment.

"Hi, it's me, Karli. I'm here with my friend Salia. Both of our parents have had the same problem - addiction," the character tells the camera.

"My mom and dad told me that addiction is a sickness," says Salia.

"Yeah, a sickness that makes people feel like they have to take drugs or drink alcohol to feel okay," adds Karli.

Other scenes include Karli telling Elmo how she used to feel like her mum's addiction was her fault.

Karli and Salia also hold up pictures of flowers, with petals representing feelings like sadness, anger and happiness - and talk about how to deal with them.

The scenes were put together with the help of a children's therapist, Jerry Moe.

"These boys and girls are the first to get hurt and, unfortunately, the last to get help," he said.

"For them to see Karli and learn that it's not their fault and this stuff is hard to talk about and it's okay to have these feelings, that's important. And that there's hope."

The famous children's show has previously tackled subjects such as puppets with HIV, jailed parents, autism and homelessness.