Poverty-stricken Muppet's debut praised as real, honest
Lily, a new Muppet due to appear on a special episode of Sesame Street, will talk to kids and families about how to deal with hunger and poverty.
Published Saturday, October 8, 2011 11:45AM EDT
A Canadian poverty activist has applauded Sesame Street's decision to feature a poverty-stricken Muppet on the long-running children's show.
Lily, a bright-pink Muppet whose family struggles to put food on the table, will make her debut on Sunday in an hour-long PBS special meant to raise awareness about childhood hunger.
While food insecurity is a weighty issue, Megan Yarema of Canada without Poverty said it's also an important one for children to learn about.
"Let's get a little more awareness and understanding around what that actually means to be living in poverty," she said.
The young Muppet's back story includes a father who was recently laid off and a mom who now gets food from a communal garden and canned food drives.
"When you don't even know whether you're going to have a next meal or not, well, that can be pretty hard," Lily says in the episode.
Though Sesame Street is known for teaching children about letters and numbers, in recent years the show has delved into social issues like divorce and diversity.
Lily's friends include Elmo and Rosita, another young Muppet who was recently featured, along with her disabled father, in a separate Sesame Street special aimed at the families of war veterans.
"I think it's fine for children to hear this…it's very real, it's very honest," said Yarema. "There's nothing wrong with being honest about what's happening in your society, in your community."
It is estimated that 17 million American children -- nearly one in four -- have limited or uncertain access to affordable and nutritious food.
Lily will debut during an hour-long special Growing Hope Against Hunger on PBS on Oct. 9. The episode will be hosted by country singer Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Sarah Galashan