Horizons and Sesame Street in Communities ‘Connects the Dots’ on Family Homelessness
Creating Healing Play Environments
Strategies for Positive Interactions
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, announced a major new initiative to offer help and hope to the growing number of young children across the United States who are experiencing homelessness. The social impact team at Sesame Street in Communities called on Horizons for Homeless Children to inform the content behind a series of new professional development videos, articles, and strategies for providers who play a crucial role in supporting children experiencing homelessness. Kicking off the initiative, Sesame Street in Communities hosted an interactive conversation with a panel of expert providers to raise nationwide awareness about homelessness, its effects on children, and ways providers can help. The panel included expert providers from various sectors including Horizons CEO, Kate Barrand.
“Homeless children are an invisible part of our society and Sesame Street in Communities’ focus on the issue is shining a light on our most vulnerable,” said Kate Barrand, CEO of Horizons for Homeless Children. “Early life experiences actually get into the body, with lifelong effects—not just on cognitive and emotional development, but on long-term physical health as well. Those effects can be mitigated with the right supports.”
The new initiative provides new resources including three videos featuring the work at Horizons, each providing a unique perspective on its Playspace program which builds playrooms in shelters across the state of Massachusetts and staffs them with more than 1,000 volunteers. The program gives children who live in shelter a sanctuary in contrast to the instability and inconsistency of their lives. New video resources showcase the program and best practices in creating healing play environments and strategies for having positive adult-child interactions while in shelter.
In addition to making these provider resources available, the initiative engages children and families with the resilient and relatable Lily, a seven-year-old Muppet whose family is staying with friends on Sesame Street after losing their home. By featuring Lily and her friends on Sesame Street, the resources also show the experience from a child’s perspective, with Lily and her friends encouraging optimism, promoting understanding, and modeling simple coping strategies for children.