Thirty-seven elementary schools across five school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley will each receive a copy of two anti-bullying and anti-discrimination children’s books courtesy of a donation from the Rotary Club of Santa Clarita.
Glenn Terry, president of the local group, invited the books’ author, Stephen Tako, and former Seattle Seahawks NFL player, Dave DesRochers, who reviewed the book, to the donation ceremony Friday morning in front of Santa Clarita City Hall.
“Each book has a variety of different lessons to help children overcome negative beliefs about themselves,” said Tako, a member of the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club. “It helps them with their self-esteem, it helps them build friendships, teamwork, and other different safety issues as well.”
Tako used the time spent indoors during the pandemic to finish the second volume in his anti-bullying book series, “Junga the Dancing Yeti Meets Heidi,” which was released last year.
The first volume, “Junga the Dancing Yeti,” was released in 2018 and has an accompanying video on YouTube. A video accompanying the second volume will be released on YouTube on Tuesday.
DesRochers said he had a tie to the book since he was bullied when he was in junior high school.
“I was bullied and also being a bigger person and not being very coordinated I was also made fun and teased,” the former Seahawk said.
DesRochers, a member of the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary, said he frequently talks with young students about bullying.
“Tell somebody, reach out and say look, ‘I’m getting bullied,’ ‘I’m getting teased,’” he said. “They’re going to give you tools on how to deal with it.”
Joining Tako and DesRochers were leadership from the Newhall, Saugus and Sulphur Springs school districts, as well as Santa Clarita Councilman Cameron Smyth.
Jezelle Fullwod is assistant superintendent of education services at Sulphur Springs Union School District. She said the books will support her district’s positive behavior support program, which includes anti-bullying.
“We have at all of our schools our anti bullying and our wellness programs and these books would just contribute to those programs,” she said.