A 9-year-old boy, Lennie Street, has defied the odds to help raise funds for a new home for Paces, a special school in Sheffield.
Lennie, who lives in Leeds, has become a social media sensation thanks to his posts playing the piano through lockdown.
Lennie has Cerebral Palsy and Hydrocephalus. He isn’t able to stand or walk independently and requires support with most tasks. Despite these challenges, Lennie loves playing the piano every day. His optimistic tweets and song snippets have inspired many.
Cause UK was so inspired by Lennie, we started a PR campaign to help raise funds for Paces.
Cause UK used Lennie’s story to help raise profile and money for a £3.5m appeal for ‘A New Home for Paces’, which would support children and adults with neurological conditions, just like Lennie.
Paces is a life-transforming special school, as well as a bespoke centre supporting an estimated 80 children and adults living with Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s, MS and other complex brain injuries.
We provided pro bono PR and social media support and gifted film production to the tune of £2,000. Lennie’s fantastic piano playing, helped raise in excess of £20,000 for Paces.
Paces believes in supporting its students to be as independent as possible, that there is no limit to their achievements and to live life to the full. Through Conductive Education, Lennie and his school friends are encouraged every day to push their capabilities and to develop their personality and identity.
Our strategy was to deliver a campaign that captured that essence; Lennie is the epitome of that, and he has brightened all our days during the pandemic. (It was a pleasure to gift our time and work on this project).
We simply amplified what Lennie was already doing so well – playing the piano on social media. Working with his mum, we identified his favourite song (Hallelujah) and then set about approaching musicians/celebrities associated either with the song, or Lennie’s cause. The aim was to create an inspiring social media film, that would reach a wider audience for Lennie, using celebrity influence and traditional media platforms.
The target audience was wide – the general public – the ask? To donate and support children like Lennie.
We targeted regional and national broadcast, print, and digital media to help raise the profile of Lennie’s campaign to raise money for Paces school.
The vision was simple. To showcase Lennie’s talents, using a much-loved Leonard Cohen song, and approaching celebrities/influencers naturally linked to these factors, who would capture wider attention.
We worked with Lennie’s mum to help create a viral film, for social media and to capture broadcast media attention. Over 50 Paces school children took part in the film, as well as staff from Paces, and amazing disabled musicians who have shown their talent through innovative technology.
Working closely with Sally Street (Lennie’s mum), who secured some famous faces to appear, including Jools Holland and Nitin Sawhney. Managing Director of Cause UK, Clair Challenor-Chadwick, hit the phones to secure Rufus Wainwright to take part in the film.
We also approached Sheffield band, the Arctic Monkeys, after research found the band are from the town that Paces is based, resulting in an (anonymous) donation from the Artic Monkeys of £5K.
Cause UK provided pro bono support in the creation of the film, (Cause UK associate, filmmaker Gary Lawson, edited the footage), celebrity engagement, as well as the press release and its distribution, including pitching and securing national TV exposure.
We also directly used the campaign to secure a brand-new piano for Paces, donated by Besbrode Pianos.
Lennie’s mum, Sally Street, is a former mental health social worker. She gave up her job to care for Lennie full-time. She said: “The support for Lennie’s fundraising campaign has been miraculous. He has raised over £20,000 with donations from all over the world. The pandemic has provided an opportunity for Lennie and so many other disabled children to show the world who they are, what they are capable of, and that there are no limits to what they can achieve. We are hoping our social media film will take off and raise even more.”
Read more Cause UK case studies here.