Sesame Street is tackling the homelessness that 2.5 million kids face. Right here. In America.

Sesame Street has a long history of helping kids explore tough emotional and societal issues.

I credit much of my early childhood education to Sesame Street programming. Four decades ago, the show helped me learn not just letters and numbers, but real-life social and emotional skills as well. I watched Bert and Ernie work through friend squabbles and Kermit and Cookie Monster talk about different kinds of feelings. I remember Buffy St. Marie breastfeeding her baby and telling Big Bird matter-of-factly what she was doing.  

When Mr. Hooper died, I was old enough to see how well the show handled the topic of death and all of the questions and feelings that went along with it. Sesame Street didn't shy away from hard topics, and generations of kids have benefited from the creators' and collaborators' respect for children's capacities.


Thankfully, that hasn't changed. In 2011, Sesame Street introduced a character named Lily, whose family didn't have enough to eat. Now Lily is helping kids understand another harsh reality millions of kids face.

As a character brought on to help kids understand food insecurity, Lily is back to take on homelessness.

Lily arrived on the Sesame Street scene sharing how her family sometimes visits the food pantry. Now she will be sharing that her family sometimes doesn't have a home to live in. According to the New York Times, the storyline will include Lily's family alternating between sleeping in shelters, bunking with relatives, and staying with Sofia, a person who works at the local community center.

The show won't actually use the word "homeless," as there's a negative stigma surrounding that term. Instead, the letter H will represent hope, help, healing, and home. In the first segment released on Youtube, Sofia tells Lily that her namesake's flower is a symbol of hope. She also reassures her that home is more than a house or an apartment—it's "where the love is."

In New York City, one out of every 10 school-aged kids experienced homelessness last year.

Despite an economy that is thriving by many measures, some people in the most expensive U.S. cities still face economic hardship. Housing costs in some markets have pushed people out of house and home, literally. And some—too many—of those people are children.

New York City, where Sesame Street is set, saw its third consecutive year with more than 100,000 students living in temporary housing during the school year—the largest number since record-keeping began. And nationwide, 2.5 million children face homelessness. That's one out of 30 kids—an appalling number in the world's largest economy.

Storylines and characters like Lily give kids with struggling families a voice, in addition to fostering empathy in kids who may not be aware of this issue. Kudos to Sesame Street for continuing to lead the way helping children learn about tough topics.

Check out the first segment here:

More

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture