A boy wearing a hat and a red shirt looks into the distance

Through Our Eyes

Four-part docuseries from Sesame Workshop. New series streaming July 22nd on HBO Max.

Through Our Eyes is an intimate and inspiring journey into the lives of American families, from the perspective of children themselves as they navigate formidable yet all-too-common challenges along with parents and siblings. The four-part docuseries captures the innocence of childhood and the strength of perseverance in the face of parental incarceration, climate displacement, the wounds of war, and homelessness.

Episode 1: APART
Episode 2: UPROOTED
Episode 3: HOMEFRONT
Episode 4: SHELTER
A boy wearing a black tshirt and jeans sits in the grass

Episode 1: APART

About the Episode

America has the world's largest prison population, and 1 in 14 children in the country will experience the incarceration of a parent. Apart follows Lyric, Eric, and Nnadji as they grapple with the incarceration of parents with whom they maintain a deep connection despite physical distance. Meanwhile, other family members take on multiple roles, rallying together to build a supportive foundation and bring hope to their lives. The three children, from disparate parts of the country and with different stories, have one simple thing in common: they want their loved one to return home. 

Directed by: Geeta Gandbhir and Rudy Valdez

Apart Resources

The incarceration of a loved one can be overwhelming for children. Perceived stigma can lead to silence—but open and honest conversations can answer kids’ big questions, help them understand that they are not alone, and promote healing. These organizations can offer a place to start.

  • We Got Us Now is built by, led by, and about children of incarcerated parents. Their curated list of books for all age groups invites families to learn more. 
  • The Osborne Association works to prevent and reduce the damage caused by crime and incarceration. They offer a wide range of resources for children of incarcerated parents
  • Alliance for Justice for Families is a NY State organization for criminal justice reform that has a family support unit with information on individual and family counseling.
  • Hour Children works to help incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women with children successfully rejoin the community, reunify with their families, and build independent lives.
  • Sesame Street in Communities provides free, bilingual resources to help the caring adults in children’s lives guide them through difficult moments with love and support.

Reflection:

1 in 14 American children will experience parental incarceration, and 2.7 million children have a parent in prison right now.

Source: Across Prison Walls, I Felt My Parents’ Love, Chesa Boudin 

Source: American Psychological Association

A girl in a pink shirt smiles with her arms over her head

Episode 2: UPROOTED

About the Episode

Since 2016, millions of people in the United States have been displaced by weather-related disasters that are occurring more frequently and with greater intensity due to climate change. In Uprooted, two families with young children grapple with climate-related crises. In Iowa, sisters Emma (11) and Leo (9), the 6th generation on their family-owned farm, face the threat of moving after years of unpredictable weather have made farming unsustainable. In Texas, Mariah (9) copes with living in a motel room for months with her family, while waiting for their home to be rebuilt after it was severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Directed by: Talleah Bridges McMahon

Uprooted Resources

Climate change is often a tough topic to discuss with children in a way that is both honest and reassuring. For families experiencing displacement due to climate change, helping children navigate the issue and their own feelings can be especially challenging. These organizations can offer a place to start.

Reflection:

A “climate displacement” occurs each time someone is forced from their home due to a climate-related disaster. Since 2016, there have been more than 6.5 million climate displacements in the United States.

Source: The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) data for the United States. The data was sent to us from Frankie Parrish, IDMC Communications Specialist, and Sylvain Ponserre, IDMC Data and Risk Analysis Manager. This information covers 2016 - 2020 and has yet to be published.

A boy in a black sweatshirt sits in a child's bedroom and smiles

Episode 3: HOMEFRONT

About the Episode

In the US, more than three million children live in homes with servicemembers and veterans who rely on caregiver support. Gabby, Terry, and Luther all have parents who were injured while serving, and each family has found a way to heal the wounds of war. Homefront shows how Gabby (9), a fierce animal lover with a stock of chickens, rabbits, bees, and dogs, loves her family and faces her fears about her Dad’s traumatic brain injury and PTSD via equine therapy. Terry (10), an enthusiastic boy and his parents, Taniki and Brandon, share their experiences and mental health struggles as they work to heal and help each other cope with depression and PTSD through honest conversation and embracing joy. Luther (9) is a charismatic boy who wants to be “like my dad when I grow up.” His father, Joe, a Navy veteran who lost his leg in an IED explosion, struggles through chronic pain to put family first.

Directed by: Kristi Jacobson

Homefront Resources 

When a veteran requires caregiving at home, the whole family often takes on support roles—including children. Little is understood about the impact of caregiving within military families, but there is a growing understanding that better support systems are needed. These organizations can offer a place to start.

  • The Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s programs provide military and veteran caregivers the support they need at the local, state, and national levels. 
  • Hidden Heroes provides support, resources, and community for military caregivers and raises awareness of the pivotal role that they play in nurturing veteran families.
  • Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers provides free and confidential coaching for the families and friends of returning service members and veterans to manage difficult transitions.
  • VA Caregiver Support: offers services for caregivers including online and in-person classes and  telephone and in-person support. 
  • Veteran Caregiver Support, created by Operation Homefront, cares for wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans and fosters connections among caregivers.
  • Blue Star Caregivers: programs for caregivers including social events, peer support, coffee chats, and digital resources. 
  • America’s VetDogs trains and places skilled guide dogs with military veterans who experience both invisible and visible wounds.
  • Sesame Street for Military Families: Caregiving is an initiative to support military and veteran families as they care for a wounded, ill, or injured parent or relative.

Reflection:

In the US, there are 1.9 million servicemembers and veterans relying on caregiver support. 3.4 million children live in the homes of these caregivers.

Source: “Military Caregivers: Who are they? And who is supporting them?” RAND Corporation. 2014.

A girl with pink hair smiles with her mouth closed

Episode 4: SHELTER

About the Episode

The homelessness crisis can feel distant until seen through a child’s eyes. Shelter follows 3 unhoused children and their parents in L.A. as they seek steady shelter. Skylar’s family lives day to day: in the car, the woods, or the rare respite of a motel room. She dreams of a room of her own, while her dad struggles to find a steady job so he can save for a deposit. Nicholas and his mom Jessica spend the summer in their car, until they secure emergency motel housing—a short-term fix giving Jessica 30 days to find a more permanent solution. Victoria is the daughter of housing activist Martha Escudero. After years of couch surfing, Martha, desperate to provide a safe environment for her daughters, breaks the locks on an abandoned, state-owned house and “occupies” it. Amid threats of eviction and neighborly hostility, Victoria plants a garden and hopes her family will soon be able to put down real roots. 

Directed by: Smriti Mundhra

Shelter Resources

Losing one’s home brings enormous challenges, yet families can build a sense of hope and learn ways to cope. These organizations can offer a place to start.

Reflection:

At least 1 in 6 homeless people in the US are children.

Sources: Children's Defense Fund: The Affordable Housing Crisis Leaves Children Vulnerable and March 2021 United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Committee

Over 100,000 children in America don’t know where they’ll be sleeping tonight.

Sources: Children's Defense Fund: The State of America's Children 2020 and The 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress

Tune in to our Star-Studded Virtual Benefit through June 30—with Michelle Obama, John Legend, John Oliver and more! Click Here.

Two women and two young children smile with Rosita outdoors.

Want more Sesame? Great news!

Sign up for our newsletter and get fun videos, great music, resources for parents and powerful stories about how we're helping children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.

By signing up, you will receive updates on our work and ways you can support it.

By signing up, you will receive updates on our work and ways you can support it.