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The word on "The Street"

Scott Jagow Sep 17, 2009

No, not Wall Street. Sesame Street. PBS has produced an hour-long special designed to help children understand why their families might be having a tough time and how to deal with it. It’s actually a refreshing take on the economic problems many of us are getting numbed to.

Here’s the link to watch the entire show, Families Stand Together.

The Columbia Journalism Review loved it:

Sure it’s gauzy and soft-focused (though not as much as you might expect), but it was aimed in large part at children.

That’s what makes it heartbreaking, too. In one segment, layoffs hit Sesame Street and Elmo’s parents struggle to make ends meet. Somehow it really sinks in how awful it is out there, especially when you remember that one in six workers is unemployed or underemployed. This is what’s going on in many a household right now, and this hour of TV was more revealing than a hundred tossed-off job-numbers stories.

For me, it wasn’t because of Elmo. It’s because the show featured real families too. The producers spent time with them in their homes. This couple was in the process of losing their home because of lost income:

Seems more real than most of the Sesame Street I remember watching. But that’s good. Kids don’t need everything sugar-coated. They can handle a lot more than they’re sometimes given credit for. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to the kids for our Small Town Hall videos, but they’re a bit older than the Sesame Street crowd, and I can imagine how difficult it must be for parents to explain certain things to their youngest kids. Here’s what PBS says about it:

“In these difficult financial times, we find that parents often lack the words to explain what is going on to their children, and that prevents them from having the necessary conversations. Through Families Stand Together, we’re able to give the families profiled in the special — and the many others watching from home — the tools they need.”

More resources available here

And here’s a recent Marketplace Money story about the project.

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