Madison Heights & Lifelines
A Dynamic Approach to Adult Education and Family Literacy

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Madison Heights

Ten half-hour dramatic episodes. Madison Heights centers around a hypothetical middle school and focuses on one or more families struggling to overcome adversity with courage, dignity and hope. Each episode addresses a particular problem, such as illiteracy, alcoholism, and welfare.


Ten half-hour documentaries. These real life episodes trace the lives of real families
from different backgrounds, allowing viewers to share the experiences of others who are struggling with the same family literacy issues...and making progress! These episodes deal with the same problems which Madison Heights addresses dramatically.

A Dynamic New Approach

Forty-three percent of people with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty….Children are six times more likely to drop out of school if their parents are dropouts….Workers who lack a high school diploma earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by a high school graduate, and only 34 cents for every dollar earned by a college graduate.

The statistics tell the story. Now there is a dynamic new approach to adult education and family literacy. Madison Heights and Lifelines combine the distinctive aspects of television drama and documentary with carefully integrated yet practical learning materials to present true-to-life stories of families struggling to improve themselves and their position in the larger community.

By addressing the challenges and emotional issues families experience, and celebrating their determination to move forward, however slowly, Madison and Lifelines motivate adults—the change agent in a family setting—to continue their studies and achieve their goals.

Creating a Framework for Learning


Development of Madison Heights and Lifelines was based on six overarching
goals as established by the National Academic Council.


Provide experiences that will help adults improve their ability to read with understanding, convey ideas, listen and observe critically, and communicate clearly with others.


Provide experiences that will help adults manage family resources, provide for safety and physical needs, and balance priorities.


Provide experiences that will help adults enhance their self-esteem and their ability to advocate for and guide others within the family unit.


Provide experiences that will help parents and caregivers gain insight into child growth and development, form and maintain supportive family relationships, and become partners in the education of their children.


Provide ideas for age-appropriate interactive activities that parents or caregivers can use with their children to help them achieve success in school and other life experiences.


Provide experiences that will help adults improve their ability to make decisions, resolve conflicts, and plan.

Target Audiences


Low literacy at-risk families.


Parents of children involved in Even Start, Head Start and other early childhood education programs.


Adults involved in or needing ABE programs.


At-risk youth.


Limited English proficient adults at the intermediate and advanced levels.

Madison Heights Video Design Parameters


Issues and situations that are real in the world of the target.


Common thread—Madison Heights School—a K-8 school with an after school child care program.


Does not appeal to people with low literacy skills—not appealing or acceptable to the target audience.


Poor and struggling families are not the only ones facing challenges.


Includes middle-class with problems that will resonate with all viewers


The programs depict examples of nobility and hope but do not always end in an “all’s well that ends well” manner.

Lifelines Video Design Parameters


Follows families from different backgrounds and in different circumstances and locations—inner city, a farm, a Native American reservation, or the hills of Appalachia. Over months, we live their daily lives and let them tell their stories.


Allow adult learners to share the experiences of those in the documentaries—people struggling and making progress with adult education and family literacy issues.


Target audience will respond more positively to the real people going through experiences similar to theirs.


A whole range of family structures and types are featured.

Finally, one exemplary purpose of video is to make different people with different problems not only aware of the commonality of their plight but also aware of some possible solutions. Both Madison Heights and Lifelines make use of video technology for this purpose…that is, to break down the barriers which hold a large portion of our society back.