Telling A Timeless Story
The Frankie Lemmon School was established in the 1960s. Its beginning is a timeless story of the lengths parents will go to give their child an opportunity to fulfill his full potential.
It is also a story of how one little boy impacted generations of special needs children across the state of North Carolina.
In celebration of 50 years of service, the Frankie Lemmon School partnered with Digital P Media to create an updated narrative of the school's story, while preserving its enduring legacy.
The Frankie Lemmon School had an impactful story to tell, a collection of old photographs and video, and key storytellers whose perspectives were at risk of being lost if not collected. At the same time, the school was at a crossroads. With plans to move to a new building that would accommodate five times the number of students, they needed help getting the financial backing to reach that goal.
The school had to connect to as many possible sources of funding as they could, and had a limited budget to work with. As their 50 years of service milestone was approaching, they knew this was the right time to give their story the update it needed.
Often, the first 30 seconds of a video are the most impactful. Many viewers don’t have time to continue watching, and those who do, are looking for a reason to stay engaged or move on. By introducing real people with a passion for the school early on, the origin story is able to accomplish a key objective, to share some of the organization’s purpose, core beliefs, and successes.
Audiences are moved when they understand the obstacles faced by the founders, the ways in which norms and standards had to be challenged to accomplish goals. The Frankie Lemmon School had unique challenges to share.
By interviewing Executive Directors spanning over 40 years, a clear picture of the early risks and sacrifices become evident.
Martha Lee Ellis, Executive Director, 1974-2004, explains in the video “In the 60s and 70s, parents were very often told at the birth of a child with a disability to look for a home or an institution.” Janet Sellers, Executive Director, 2004-2015 continues “The doctor automatically said to the families, you’re going to have to put this child somewhere. He’s not going to ever be able to this and he’s not ever going to be able to that. And I think for so many parents, it was devastating. And a lot of the children didn’t learn things they could have.”
In addition to interviewing living contributors, the school wanted to include Frankie’s parents. While archive footage was available, the quality was not what audiences expect to see today. To enrich the viewing experience, editors added historical photographs as cover footage along with the voice of Frankie’s parents. The archive footage was not excluded, but framed in a way that didn’t blur or distort.
The origin story continues, highlighting Frankie Lemmon School’s pioneering perspective as it challenged the status quo and blazed the trail for a new approach to supporting children with special needs. Establishing the school’s innovative approach early in the video helps emphasize the school’s mission, “To become a recognized model for life-changing education and support, while serving an increasing number of children and their families.”
Preserving the inspirational story the Frankie Lemmon School was one goal. Sharing it at a key time in the school’s development was another. During its 50th year, the school was able to secure the funding they needed to move into a new building. One special donor even came forward with a ten million dollar loan for the move.