How a Cartoon Character Changed the Way Children Understand Bullying.
You are probably aware that most schools have an anti-bullying policy in place, and this has been the norm for a good 15 years. How’s that working for us? Have you noticed less bullying stories in the news? Less suicides or less shootings?
We have spent countless tax dollars and endless hours on programs that are created mostly for middle and high school students because, after all, we all know this is when bullying is the worst. So why aren’t these programs producing better results?
A New Movement to help Children
The anti-bullying movement began after the Columbine Massacre of 1999. Georgia became the first state to issue an anti-bullying law one month later. In 2008, California was the first state to enact cyberbullying legislation. All states now have anti-bullying laws.
While there are many great programs now in place, that didn’t exist for me, the fact is that most of them are designed to help students during the typical worst years of 6th grade and higher. At this age, we are now in Damage Control for our children and we missed the mark of reaching them during their formative years.
The relentless bullying started for me in 1st grade. By third grade, I was afraid to go out for recess due to the bullying. It was a constant threat to any type of happy childhood I could have, that ended in 9th grade, due to me finally defending myself. But the damage was done and I suffered for many additional years with making poor choices and having a low self-esteem.
I’m one of the lucky ones that made it through those dark years and survived to share my story. And I’m determined to make a difference for children who are still suffering from the damages of bullying. This is why we have developed an award-winning school curriculum for students in K-3rd grades. More researchers are now agreeing that we must find a way to incorporate preventative anti-bullying training that is age-appropriate for children during their formative years.
A Dancing Yeti?
As fortune has it, I played a Yeti in a film back in 2011. On the last day of filming, the crew filmed me dancing in the costume and they loved it! The director asked if he could use the footage of my dancing in the ending credits and this became the beginnings of The Dancing Yeti. Little did I know at the time how my life would change.
Later that year, while on the set of Gangster Squad with Ryan Gosling, I started writing a story about this Yeti character and how he loved to dance. He was a friendly yeti, but all his life he was called a monster and he was hunted and discriminated against because of his looks. The story began with the dancing yeti as a 6 year old boy who left the safe mountain with his grandma, only to be treated poorly by the locals at the new mountain, due to “looking different”.
Eventually, that story became the first of three published anti-bullying books based on the character Junga the Dancing Yeti®. And with the most recent world premiere in La Jolla this past April, all three books have been adapted into animation short films with an international voiceover cast. The most recent film has a football theme and also includes the voices of five former NFL players; four of which are San Diego State alumni.
Confident Life™ Program
The Confident Life™ Anti-bullying Program we created is being distributed through the non-profit Motivated To Act and is being piloted this fall with a school in the SDUSD. It is an evidence-based program that has already won the 2023 Safe Family Seal of Approval for Innovation in Curriculum, from the Child Safety Network®
With our excitement over this program, we decided to branch into the multicultural markets to reach even more young children. We partnered with Canyon Crest Academy and their bright students are helping us to translate all of our books, films and educational programs into additional languages. We already have materials now in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French, Vietnamese and Turkish with 15 additional languages planned.
The next natural step for a Dancing Yeti, is to have a Multi-cultural Dance-a-Thon to raise awareness for bullying and to raise funds to support our programs and supplies to be donated to schools and cultural institutions in the greater San Diego area.
We are having a KICKOFF Party on Wednesday, August 23rd from 6-8pm at The University Club, downtown. At this event, there will be a brief presentation on Motivated To Act, plus speakers from the San Diego chapter of Sister Cities International, Rotary Club, The University Club and more.
We will be delighted with live multicultural performances by Championship Irish Dancers, Traditional Polish Dancers, Traditional Mexican Dancers and we also have a Mystery Dance Troupe that will perform for our 90+ guests.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month
We have reached out to media sources, because we know the general public would love learning more about our upcoming Dance-a-Thon taking place at the Torrey Pines Church in La Jolla on October 14th from 10am to 10pm. We are anticipating having over 30 Dance Troupes performing at this event!
Ours is a story of overcoming adversity and about finding a passion in life to make a positive difference for children, who might not feel they have a voice.
If you are in the San Diego, CA area, come as our guest to the KICKOFF Party on August 23, 2023 from 6-8pm at The University Club.
Please register online today!
To attend the August 23rd KICKOFF Party:
CEO, Motivated To Act
Motivated To Act is a 501(c)3 that enlists the help of Junga the Dancing Yeti®, who children love and admire. This character and his friends are all part of the award-winning school curriculum, the Confident Life™ Program, designed to reduce or end bullying for children.