With 2024 set to be a big year in sport (Olympics and Euros), we wanted to put a spotlight on the raw, emotive stories behind athletes that have suffered from ACEs - adverse childhood experiences.
Little is known about ACEs, and how the more suffered by an individual, the more devastating the consequences in later life. Our first two videos focused on the impact of children and parents who've benefited from the charity. The third, ACEs, is an emotive yet informative film featuring former rugby professionals.
ACEs are invisible yet the stats are shocking: adults that have experienced four or more ACEs are twice as likely to contract a terminal illness and 14x more likely to attempt suicide. Those with 6 ACEs are 45x more likely to attempt suicide.
They say that it takes a village to raise children - and this is the theme behind the ACEs film. Those with ACEs can be lifted onto an alternative path. The film focuses on explaining the science and thinking behind why positive proverse experiences can make a difference. It also pulls back the curtains on how former England Sevens star Ralph Knibbs' life changed through the power of community and rugby as a sport.
Targeted at high net worth donors in business, sport professionals and families from local communities, the video features several contributors and has a highly engaged online community. Every time a film is released, the film is shared far and wide. Beyond this, the film ultimately reveals raw human emotion from former sports professionals. ACEs are invisible - and seeing them share their stories drives a strong call to action: donate, so that other children can benefit like I did.
This film is the third in a trilogy that Skylark has made for Star Scheme. It's been used to fundraise online and at an annual dinner. Every time a film is made, the charity surpasses its fundraising target. 'Grown rugby professionals are crying,' Star Scheme founder Dan Wooler explained when the film debuted at the annual dinner. This is because our director James Sampson spends a lot of time with each contributor, hoping to draw out powerful themes and stories. We never use actors, just real people. The film is not scripted and this is evident in Ralph's testament. The result is raw and compelling storytelling that resonates with viewers.
We didn't want to promote Star Scheme throughout the film as this would put off viewers. We wanted to show the impact it has had on people affected by the charity - from adults, to the volunteers to the researcher and children who have all benefited from a sport they wouldn't have otherwise had access to. This is clearly communicated throughout. We wanted to promote the impact, not the charity brand name (until the end screen).
Skylark was set up as our founder believed that video was the only way to communicate causes and solutions; no other medium could beat it. From sound (music, narration, tone) to visual (capturing raw emotion, unscripted, to looking back into the past), this film combines storytelling (Ralph) with why the charity exists in the first place - through the devastating research learnings. Unscripted videos create a sense of authenticity and honesty - and this film has plenty of it!
Motion graphics featuring stats appear in the film to leave viewers with a moment of realism. Balance this with the montage of adult men who seemingly look 'normal', it's shocking and thought provoking - ACEs are invisible after all. We've all heard of the surprising role of childhood trauma in athletic success but little research has been conducted. Star Scheme is not only making a material difference to kids at grassroots level, it's also funding research into ACEs.
Call to action
The film ends with a rousing montage of children who have benefited from the charity. As the primary goal is to show the film at major fundraising events, to conclude with real children - and not actors - has inspired people to donate. For online, Star Scheme's logo appears at the end without a URL because this is accompanied by a 'clickable' link to the fundraising page.
The charity is consistently seeking donations to ensure a rolling three years of funding - it doesn't have the mega media budgets that major charities do. But what it has achieved through carefully crafted video and hard work has put a spotlight on a much-needed area that needs further research. It's genuinely making a difference and we're proud of how the video has compelled others to take action.
About Star Scheme
To date, in just over 3 years since inception, the charity has rolled out across several youth rugby clubs across the UK and has been shortlisted for a Rhino Grassroots Award. It has a highly engaged community of supporters and cites the film as integral to communicating the charity's mission.
About Skylark Media
We've been working closely with Star Scheme since 2020 and our films are a labour of love. Skylark founder Jo Haywood's two sons benefited from playing sport at Chew Valley RFC and has been impressed by how the club has evolved into an inclusive club that has seen talent selected to play for the Bristol Bears (Star Scheme beneficiary, Daley).
We align with the following UN Sustainable Development Goals: