Our alumnae make a difference in the community in so many ways. Many of them join their children’s school PTA, volunteer for various nonprofits, and advocate for recovery by sharing their stories and being a living example. Our alumnae are breaking the stigma surrounding addiction and mental health by using their influence and platforms to educate their community. And one special pair, alumnae Jaana W. and her daughter Salia have taken their story across the country through Sesame Street.
Sesame Street has historically used their show to help children understand some of the tougher “adult problems” that impact their lives. Their new character Karli, who is involved in the foster care system, has a mom struggling with addiction. This storyline is part of Sesame Street in Communities, a free online resource designed to provide families, providers, and children with resources for education and understanding.
Sesame Street wanted to help remove the fear of talking about addiction for kids and adults alike. Substance use disorder is a stigmatized disease and this video will certainly be part of the solution in helping people of all ages understand addiction, recovery, the importance of addiction treatment, and attending self-help meetings for continued sobriety and wellness.
The effects of substance use disorder are felt by the entire family. NIDA estimates 25% of American kids grow up in households where substance use disorder is present, which leads to “parentification” and kids having to grow up really fast. Worst of all, some kids believe that the parent’s addiction is somehow their fault.
Karli starts off the video by saying, “Her Mom and Dad have the same problem as my Mom: Addiction.” She talks about “Big feelings” and one of those feelings is thinking she was the only one going through this experience. That is, until she met other kids like Salia and they could talk about it together!
Salia helps Karli not feel alone when it comes to being a child with parents in recovery. As our alumnae, staff, and community watch this episode, many have shared that they were brought to tears as they saw a family just like theirs in recovery, on TV, on such a well known show. It was an honor to see the New Directions for Women daycare featured as Salia leads children in a meditation something she shares is a part of her self-care routine.
Salia speaks with infinite wisdom and the innocence of a child about recovery, including ways she works on herself (journaling, playing and being of service). She acknowledges her parents continue to work hard every day to stay healthy, so their family stays healthy. Just as addiction is a chronic disease, recovery is something families need to work on every day to experience sustained sobriety over a lifetime. When parents and children heal from addiction together, it breaks the hereditary cycle and creates new patterns of recovery for generations to come. We’ve seen this first hand at New Directions for Women since 2001 when we began serving women with children and pregnant women in any trimester, as well as women with children at home!