Last week with grant support from DisposeRx, Sesame Street in Communities launched a new series of webinars examining how parental addiction affects children. Each webinar in the series offers a unique provider perspective, tactics to address their specific needs, and resources for child and family therapists, first responders, community leaders, and providers including pharmacists and physicians.
DisposeRx’s involvement started when Sesame Workshop first introduced Karli—a six-year-old Sesame Street Muppet whose mother struggles with substance abuse and addiction. When our President William Simpson learned of these efforts, he knew we had to get involved, as “Education is one of the pillars of our mission, and there is no organization better at reaching and teaching young children than Sesame Workshop.”
The first of four webinars is now available, The Child’s Voice: How Parental Addiction Affects Young Children, featuring a conversation with Sis Wenger, president and chief executive officer of the National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA), on how parental addiction affects young children.
Ms. Wenger offered a historical perspective on her addiction work and efforts to integrate the knowledge base more systematically into the education of primary health care, mental health and addiction professionals, as well as clergy and pastoral counseling training and the education of social workers and educators. She paints an eye-opening picture of what so many young children experience daily and offers ways individuals can offer support and care.
The impact of alcoholism and addiction on families and children is far reaching, and Ms. Wenger notes that addiction is often a driving force behind many other issues that cause children to live in a high-stress environment.
When asked about concerns for children “now that the rules have changed” due to COVID-19 where many children are missing the safety net of attending school and many are confined to their homes, Ms. Wenger said she is concerned that they will develop post-traumatic stress and feel hopeless or start thinking about suicide. Wenger offered that even a little break from chronic emotional stress would be helpful and urged people to find ways to connect with families and invite children to do something constructive while playing outdoors, such as kickball or riding bikes. That allows a child to be a kid which is a positive thing.
We invite you to join our efforts to educate and offer resources by watching this webinar and sharing via your network – along with all Sesame Street in Communities’ other parental addiction resources – which can be found at sesamestreetincommunities.org.