Sesame Street has never shied away from addressing difficult topics, and that includes the coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, CNN hosted "The ABC's of Covid 19," a town hall in partnership with Sesame Street to address kids' and parents' concerns.
Moderated by Big Bird alongside CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Erica Hill, the 90-minute town hall featured experts and Sesame Street characters answering questions submitted by families, dealing with such issues as education, anxiety, screen time, and playdates during the ongoing crisis.
Highlights included Gupta teaching Elmo proper hand-washing technique and how to make a face mask, a PSA from Oscar the Grouch on "the perks of social distancing" ("This social distancing thing is kind of a grouch's dream!"), and various characters explaining how they're helping others during the pandemic.
.@elmo wonders why people are wearing masks outside even though it’s not Halloween.@drsanjaygupta shows him how to easily make a mask and also how to sing “Happy Birthday” when washing his hands to prevent spreading germs. https://t.co/icV04F4FNW #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/wpmMFqv4j9— CNN (@CNN) April 25, 2020
The town hall also included advice for parents on how to talk to handle difficult subjects and emotions with their kids, including dealing with the loss of a friend or relative to COVID-19. The segment drew on one of Sesame Street's most famous episodes, the 1983 entry addressing the death of store owner Mr. Hooper.
"When I lost my friend Mr. Hooper, I felt sad and confused," Big Bird said. "I didn't know what to do, but luckily I had my friends and my family there to help me. It's important to remember that we're all in this together, to help and to care for each other, and to lift each other up."
"The important thing that we try to tell parents is, you need to be honest. You need to support your children," added child psychologist Dr. Wanjiku F.M. Njoroge. "Many children are grieving the loss of their regular-day activities, and the loss of someone that they love. Letting them know in very clear and plain language about that loss, and then letting them express their emotions... often help children and families."
During the #CNNSesameStreet town hall, @BigBird says he felt confused and sad after his friend Mr. Hooper died.— CNN (@CNN) April 25, 2020
Here’s how parents can help their kids deal with emotions if they lose someone because of the coronavirus. https://t.co/icV04F4FNW pic.twitter.com/KyMyaOB5cB