By Kristie Grover and Brandy Luscalzo
In 2010 a community was riddled with grief as Chelsea King a high school scholar, athlete and active community advocate disappeared after setting out for a run in a community park. Law enforcement and thousands of volunteers searched for days until they finally found her body in a shallow grave just off the trail she was running on. Chelsea was the victim of a horrific crime committed by a convicted sex offender who later confessed and pled guilty to taking Chelsea’s life. That is not the end of the story, this tale of empowerment begins with a community that bonded together via social media to make a difference.
As Chelsea’s parents Brent and Kelly King questioned how this tragedy happened to them, they learned that acts of sexual violence against children are rampant and found that many others, like them didn’t realize the magnitude of these issues. As a result, they resolved that no other parents should face the fears, devastation and horror that they experienced.
They founded Chelsea’s Light Foundation (501c3 to inspire and educate “Changemakers” through outreach programs) and Chelsea’s Shield (501c4 to encourage child protection legislation) in hopes that the laws to protect our children from sexual predators become more strict, as well as create dialogue allowing victims to feel less afraid to speak out and to inspire the community who supported them. The Kings felt that by breaking the silence together, we might protect our children for generations to come.
To start that dialogue and translate knowledge about sexual predators into action, Chelsea’s Light Foundation and Chelsea’s Shield have mounted a grassroots campaign to protect our most precious resource, our children. Social media channels are our most powerful vehicles for giving victims a voice and for raising national awareness.
IN THE BEGINNING
In the weeks following the passing of Chelsea King, over ten thousand community members from San Diego were so affected by her loss that they attended her memorial service and gathered one Saturday to finish the run she started when her life was cut short. Since this time, individuals from across the globe have joined together in solidarity with, and in honor of Chelsea, who they adopted as one of their own. The loss of Chelsea has made Kelly, Brent, and Tyler (Chelsea’s younger brother) advocates for protecting the children in the world from sexual predators. The Kings decision to chose hope over rage has motivated the public to walk with their family and lend a voice to this important cause.
This support from the community was evident and critical to passing Chelsea’s Law. Signed into law on September 9, 2010 in San Diego, California, Chelsea’s Law (AB1844) enacted legal reforms to further protect children from violent sexual offenders. Chelsea’s Law was created and championed by the family of Chelsea King, in collaboration with Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher who authored and advanced the law with bipartisan support.
While Chelsea’s physical presence may be gone, her positive spirit — her light — only shines more brightly. Chelsea’s memory is a positive force that continues to shine through her community of supporters, and her spirit of wonder, happiness, fortitude and caring for others is infused in everything that the we do from passing legislation, sunflower scholarship grants, high school mentorship programs, awareness programs, to charity events.
DOCUMENTARY FILM & KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN
“Chelsea’s Light: A Brother’s Journey,” a documentary film written and produced by Tyler King, officially began production in November of 2012. Compelling storylines unfold where Tyler’s scripted narration introduces the theme, “Where once was darkness – I now see light.” It’s a powerful message for the world to hear. “Chelsea’s Light: A Brother’s Journey” seeks to empower individuals across the country and to stand up as one to protect children by passing Chelsea’s Law in all 50 states.
Chelsea’s Light launched a Kickstarter campaign not only to finish post-production of this documentary film but to mark an important first phase launch of an effective awareness building campaign designed to spark a national movement of education, awareness and prevention to support actions that protect our children. We asked the public to take action by donating funds towards finishing this documentary and allowing Tyler to tell his story, and the response was a resounding YES!
We used a cross platform strategy that included Linked-In emails, Facebook Posts, Twitter mentions, Pinterest pins, and media pitches. Over 300 news outlets across the county picked up news about our campaign and secured press coverage on every major television network in the San Diego market.
Our crowdsourcing fundraising initiative hit 100% funded in just less than 2 weeks and was a huge success. The Kickstarter campaign completed with 763 Backers and $68,496 pledged of our $50,000 goal. The campaign was 136% funded and more telling was the fact that the average pledge was $90.00 signifying that individuals felt connected to our cause and wanted to take action. Facebook was the top referrer for the drive with over 40% (386) of the pledges. Direct referrals and promotion from our webpage brought in another 255 pledges.
SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTIONS
Chelsea’s Light Foundation’s social media content is powered by the team at Hungry Wolf Marketing, a company dedicated to promoting Independent filmmakers in growth or startup mode. Kristie Grover, Executive Director of Chelsea’s Light, knew that social media was the key component to growing the organization and getting the message out to the masses. Enter Brandy Luscalzo from Hungry Wolf Marketing. Kristie was impressed with Brandy’s work with the San Diego Film Festival and approached her about helping the foundation. She knew that each year Brandy’s team would dedicate time and resources to two pro-bono accounts.
When asked why Chelsea’s Light was chosen from this year’s pro-bono contenders, CEO Brandy Luscalzo said, “Chelsea’s Light Foundation is an organization that demonstrates that there is life after tragedy and hope for a brighter tomorrow. The Kings demonstrate a soft-spoken demeanor that roars louder than any explosion, and is so heartfelt and inspiring that you can’t help be moved by their dedication to prevent another parent from losing their child as they have. They ground themselves in Chelsea’s love for life and continue to build a future that makes a difference in the world, just as she would have.”
The overarching strategy for our social media outreach is to Empower, Educate and Activate our social community which reaches over 50,000 people each day across our social platforms. You’ll find us on Facebook (114K+ followers), Twitter, Instagram, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest as well as our website which features all of our social media blogs, news coverage and photos of our events and programs.
We have several social media practices we use to engage our fans, whether that’s sharing empowering quotes and images that move our community to acknowledge the positive that can be found in circumstances which are often beyond our control, educating people on the ever changing laws like the issues in the courts now allowing sex offenders to have access to public parks and being removed from the listings of sexual offenders or asking the community to make a difference by calling their government representatives, participating in an event, and sharing information.
CALL TO ACTION-MOBILIZING THE MASSES
The documentary “Chelsea’s Light: A Brother’s Journey” is an important component of our campaign to mobilize the public to take action part in our movement to protect our youth. Where the film gives the audience the information about this issue, Chelsea’s Shield’s mobile phone app is our call to action for individuals that are inspired to get involved after watching the film.
This iPhone app called “The Shield” helps to prevent violence against children and allows individuals to sign up as volunteers, take part in legislative campaigns, stay connected with relevant news and navigate our education and prevention tools. This app honors the memory of Chelsea King by telling her story to raise awareness and inspire people everywhere to get involved in the fight to keep our kids free from predatory violence. Please join us and download the app: getCSapp.com
JOIN OUR GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN & SPREAD THE WORD…
The Kings quest to tell the world Chelsea’s story has been healing, but what they uncovered in the process demands that a spotlight be shined on this issue that is often swept under the rug. To date we have provided a safer environment for the 9 million children that reside in California. Our objective is to educate key Legislators throughout America to create thoughtful, responsive law to protect the 64 million children in the 49 States that currently do not have a “one strike” child protection law.
We are hopeful that the public will join with us in protecting and providing for our kids. They are entitled to a joyful childhood, free from the worst of the worst. You can help us spread the word about “Chelsea’s Light: A Brother’s Journey” in your community. We want this documentary to reach the widest audience possible. We’d love to discuss partnering with your organization to help raise awareness for the film and schedule a screening in your community. And of course we need your help making our campaign viral, so please put a link to www.chelseaslight.org on your website and Facebook, Tweet & Instagram to your network. We can do this together!
Mobile App: getCSapp.com
Kristie Grover is the Executive Director of Chelsea’s Light Foundation.
Brandy Luscalzo is CEO and Founder of Hungry Wolf Marketing and volunteers her time and knowledge to move forward Chelsea’s Light Social Media strategy.