How a Cartoon Character Changed the Way Children Understand Bullying

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:


Stephen Tako

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.

Creating Peace Across the Globe, Starts at Home

We live in a country where much diversity exists. Accepting that other people may not think and live the way we do is the first step toward embracing diversity. It doesn’t mean that we have to agree with others’ choices, but we certainly may find a way to co-exist on this great planet, in harmony.

All of us at Motivated To Act recognize that children learn many behaviors from examples, either at home, school, television, or elsewhere. The amount of negative energy they receive can be quite staggering for their young impressionable minds and therefore, it is important to guide them away from harmful scenarios by replacing negativity with positive energy.

How do we Encourage our Children to Listen to our Advice?
Start a strong bonding experience with your children when they are young. At a young age, children are your most captive audience, so take advantage of this precious window of opportunity and spend quality time with them.

Reading educational storytelling books with your children is the perfect way to bond with them
and to expose them to age-appropriate lessons such as anti-bullying, fair play, leadership, inclusion, empathy, and more. When children spend quality time listening to or reading books with their parents and/or grandparents, a level of trust and admiration is built, and they feel loved. With this bond in place, children have more respect for their parents and tend to listen more to their advice, feeling they have their best interest at heart.

The Local Multicultural Project
Motivated To Act utilizes the Confident Life™ Program for schools to teach children grades K-3 rd many important skills to help them navigate through their behavioral issues such as bullying
and discrimination. The Confident Life™ program won the Child Safety Network’s 2023 Award
for Innovation in Curriculum. The Multicultural Project’s goal is to have the full program’s curriculum available in many additional languages.

For various reasons, such as careers, new aspirations, natural disasters, wars, and more, families from all over the globe migrate to America every day. After arrival, some families face many challenges including a language barrier.

Our educational materials, being developed in additional languages, including Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Ukrainian, Farsi, and many more, allow family members to continue to bond with their children through storytime activities in their native language. Whether implemented in local households, educational institutions, or community centers, our Multicultural Project is designed to improve the lives of children across America.

Networking to Provide Peace Across the Globe
Our team at Motivated To Act partners with Global institutions such as Rotary International and
Sister Cities International provides aid to underserved children all over the world. We donate our educational materials in English and/or other languages to support family-bonding efforts and to instill beneficial lessons based on inclusion, fair play, truthfulness, conflict resolution, and more.

Children, when learning these important lessons during their formative years, are the key to future generations bridging the pathways of peace.

How You Can Help
Motivated To Act needs your donations to continue the development and distribution of quality programs and their contents to children and schools across America and globally. As we develop the materials in additional languages, we have opportunities for donors to have their Company Logos, their Names, and/or their Child’s names printed in our educational materials.

Helping us donate the Confident Life™ Program to a school of your choice, provides unlimited potential in shaping children’s lives. Creating pathways to peace starts early in childhood; therefore your support of our program development is invaluable and greatly appreciated.

For more information, please visit Motivated To Act or email CEO, Stephen Tako at

Grandma Yeti’s Top 10 Summer Safety Tips for Children

As we begin summer and start planning for our children to be outside of their regular school
schedule, keeping these 10 tips in mind will help them enjoy this season!

1) Keep Them Hydrated. As the weather warms up, we all tend to perspire more, and even when not playing sports or sitting in the sun, we all need to drink plenty of water.
Drinking 8 glasses a day is a good plan. If urine is golden or dark yellow, it is a sign of dehydration and easily corrected with more water. Stay away from sugary or caffeinated beverages that can dehydrate you and your children.

2) Protect The Skin. Be sure to cover the skin of children with sunscreen. Buy an extra tube of sunscreen and keep it in your car for those days when you forget to lather up before leaving home. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Also, minimize the amount of outdoor activity between 10am-4pm. Even on cloudy days, the harmful rays can provide a terrible sunburn. Stay protected!

3) Know Their Whereabouts. Many parents are both working and children may have less structure outside of school. Be an active parent who helps plan each day for your children and always know where they are spending their time. Spend time with them each evening and encourage them to share their day’s activities with you.

4) Avoid Hot Car Accidents. It’s hard to forget your dog when you park your car at the end of a long day or drive because they are jumping and excited to be anywhere different. But a sleeping child in the back seat is sadly forgotten too many times by a loving caregiver who does the unthinkable… If your daily routine is to drive your child home, you know the drill like the back of your hand. But if you are out of sync with the daily drill, and the little one is in the back seat, try setting up a pattern that will not allow you to accidentally leave your child in a hazardous situation. Try setting your phone alarm for the time when you expect to be home and it will jolt you out of your haze. Or try leaving your glovebox open during the drive. When you park your car, you will look at the glovebox and be instantly reminded that your little one is sleeping in the back seat.

5) Bike/Scooter/Skateboard Safety. Inspect your children’s travel toys and make sure they know how to maintain their equipment. Teach them the importance of inspecting all wheels and if necessary, how to replace them or add air to tires. Loose wheel spokes, loose handlebars, cracked skateboards, or wobbling roller skates all need to be fixed to keep your children safe. Go over all safety rules including riding near traffic, wearing a helmet, kneepads, and wrist guards if applicable.

6) Stranger Danger. Be sure your children do not go places alone, particularly if they are not in their own neighborhood. Let them know that no matter how nice sounding someone may be, they are to run away from any stranger who offers them a ride and report the incident to a trusted adult. Make sure they do not go anywhere alone with strangers that are teens or adults and if they are not sure what to do, always find a trusted adult for help.

7) Eating A Balanced Meal. It seems like there are so many pizza and ice cream parties over the summer and there is no reason to always avoid them. But we need to monitor the food our loved ones consume and to also set a great example for our children too. Just because its summertime, doesn’t mean we should allow ourselves to over-indulge in too many treats. Be sure to balance our diets with healthy home-cooked meals and make sure all family members are eating foods with many colors. Lots of fruits and vegetables are great, healthy alternatives to sweets. Cookouts are great fun too and there is no shame in bringing a nice salad to share.

8) Practice Water Safety. Enjoying the great outdoors on the lake, ocean or river can provide lifelong memories with your family. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for US children 1-4 years old. Be sure that children are safe around water by taking note of unfenced pools & drain covers. Everyone on boats should be wearing life vests and make sure children have taken swimming lessons. It’s highly recommended that you and others in your group have taken a CPR class to be better prepared for any accidents.

9) Keeping Safe On The Playground. It is important that children play and discover their own skills of balance and ability. It’s also important for children to learn how to improve their social skills on the playground and to display good judgment. Monitor them to make sure they are not bullying or being bullied on the playground; allowing each child to have their turn on the equipment. Be sure that children are dressed appropriately so they don’t hurt themselves with the wrong type of shoes or hanging clothes that may get caught on equipment. On hot days, lightly touch the equipment first to avoid burns. For colder days (or evenings), bring a blanket in case you or your little one wants to snuggle to warm up. Also keep a first-aid kit in your car, as it is always good to have one for your group.

10) Take Breaks From Summer Activities. Children (and many adults) don’t always know their limits and they can overexert themselves. Too much sun, not enough hydration or sunscreen, excessive sweating, and extended athletic play are all dangerous and can cause serious health problems. Be a Leader and Do What’s Right by setting a great example and making sure that everyone takes plenty of water breaks and time to allow their body temperatures to decrease.

Have a great summer and enjoy time with your family and friends. Remember to take note of these tips and others that will protect your family and set a great example for your children.

A Spark May Become an Explosion

Many people have an idea in their head just waiting to materialize into something great. As a regular host of international film festivals, I’ve been inspired these past 12 years working Red Carpet events and interviewing many filmmakers. They have planted their ideas like a seed; watered, nurtured and weathered the storms and eventually created a film. It wasn’t easy for them.

In 2011, I wrote a story about a fictitious character named The Dancing Yeti. This yeti lived his
whole life being judged harshly by others because of how he appeared to them – a monster. The story took place when the yeti was a 6 year old boy as he traveled to a new place to live with his grandma and how he overcame hurdles adjusting to his new surroundings.

From 2011 to 2014, I experimented with several illustrators trying to find the right look for the characters and I attended several youth anti-bullying events dressed up in full yeti makeup and costume. It took 90 minutes to get ready for each event with a special effects makeup artist. It was 2014 that I came up with the official name of Junga the Dancing Yeti®.

It took another three years of tweaking the storyline and changing illustrators before finding the character concept with an artist in 2017. Finally in 2018, the book Junga the Dancing Yeti® was published! As of 2023, we have three Junga Yeti books and all three have been adapted into animated films AND we have started an anti-bullying non-profit organization called Motivated To Act.

What starts as a little spark, perhaps an idea by one person, may develop over time into something quite extraordinary. But it may take a collaboration of efforts from others who share the vision and are able to bring their own talent into the fold. It may take years of patience, determination and the willingness to learn new methods on how to develop this idea. It could take much longer than expected.

Developing an idea into something great is also responsible for many ruined relationships, ruined finances and ruined lives. When one becomes obsessed in their idea, it may consume them, but this is common. Developing great ideas into reality doesn’t come easily nor quickly. It
requires the discipline and focus of someone to be somewhat obsessed in the project because there will be hurdles that arise. There will be challenges, such as funding, legal rights, public perception, loss of partners, temporary loss of focus and more.

Every great idea that made its way info fruition was backed and promoted by those who believe
in the idea and are willing to rise above all the unforeseen obstacles that will certainly present themselves at the worst possible time. This is when the determination and resilience comes into play and its why so many “great ideas” never make it into the market.

If you want to create an explosion from your spark of an idea, consider these questions:
• Do you absolutely love your project?
• Why do you want to complete this project?
• Are you “married” to the project and willing to nurture it through the good and bad times?
• Do you have a good support system of friends and/or family in place that encourages you to continue?
• Are you willing to take advice and learn how to personally grow during this development?
• What changes do you expect in your life because of this project getting completed?
• What’s next once this project is finished?
• What has stopped you from starting already and how will you get past that hurdle?

Procrastination and doubt are your worst enemies. Put your idea on paper, tell only a small group of people about your plan and get started today!

All of us at Motivated To Act hope that you find the motivation to act upon your true passion projects!