- Category: Community
- Written by Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
“I am half Canadian and half American. I am half black and half white. All children; American, Canadian and from all heritages and races need strong role models who have integrity, passion and morals; People who make us proud and strong and believe in a better world. ROSA PARKS was the courageous spark and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. supported her and brought her message of equality and fairness to the world so we could understand. We can''t forget these lessons. We have to be fair and kind to each other, to every single person who crosses our path. We have to try and when we fail, we have to apologize and try again.
We all have a responsibility to "Carry The Torch" for Canadian, American and International Heroes. I want to carry the torch for Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Lincoln Alexander, my godfather Stanley Grizzle, Mr. Garvey, Harry Jerome, Herbert Carnegie, Sam Burke and a million other Heroes we don''t know about.”
That is a quote of one of my newest heroes. He has been featured in the Toronto Sun as one of the next generation of superheroes; he has also been featured in the Globe and Mail, Brampton Guardian, Canada Extra as well as Share Magazine. He has been on Toronto's CBC Metro Morning News (recently on Monday November 14th, 2005), Breakfast Television, Global Television, CTV National News, and CKY-CTV News. He recently won the Top 20 Under 20 award for innovation, achievement and excellence. He is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, a Goodwill Ambassador for Literacy and anti-bullying advocate. He writes with an impeccability that would put people thrice his age to shame and he also happens to be very adorable. To put the icing on the cake, he is a successful African-Canadian male. Excuse me if I gush but if you bear with me, you will understand why.
Last week, I just added James to my small list of role models. Little did I ever suspect that a person who happens to be more than half my age would ever be a source of inspiration to me, but this particular person is 10-years old and source of inspiration he is indeed! James Valitchka is the 10-year-old best selling author of "Superheroes Don''t Have Dads,” a best selling book about an 8 year old boy who is being raised by a single mom and is angry and sad because he does not have a dad in his life. He is bullied and then becomes a bully himself before he decides to change his life and behavior for the better. James has also published other books including “ I Love Grandpa", “Locked Up Mysteries”, “Jess” and “Cade''s Spy Missions.” About his first book which has to date sold more than 10,000 copies, he said to the Globe and Mail,
“I wanted to write a book that would sort of make me feel happy, even if it had a sad beginning. It was just like I wanted my life to have a happy ending.”
James was raised by a hardworking, nurturing, single mom who taught him a love of reading and writing. Frustrated by not having a father himself, James started expressing himself in story form at 5-years-old by telling his mother his stories and ideas orally. His first book "Superheroes Don''t Have Dads,” was penned when he was 8-years-old and by the time he was 9-years-old, it was a bestseller. He wrote that book and submitted it in a writing contest with over 700 entries. He won. The book is based on James Valitchka’s experience of being bullied at school.
There is no doubt that this book will make a noted difference for everyone; children, families and educators in a truly significant and memorable way. James is a child, like any other child. But he is a child with purpose. He still plays and does his school work (he is home-schooled), but he is definitely on a mission to make his mark in the world!
He even takes the time from his busy schedule to tour and enrich other people’s lives. He not only promotes his book, but promotes positivity, literacy, non-violence, and anti-bullying. Although he admits that getting over his shyness was a challenge, James has excellent oratory skills. James has spoken at events with over 1,000 people in attendance and is a regular keynote speaker at educational conferences, schools, libraries and humanitarian causes.
He can certainly hold his own among some of Canada's greats. His godfather is Stanley Grizzle founder of the Jamaican Canadian Association and the first African-Canadian to be appointed judge in the court of Canadian citizenship. He was photographed together with Order of Canada recipient and famous writer June Callwood, and was joined at a September 2005 press conference by Michael Lashley, Consul General, Trinidad and Tobago and former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Lincoln Alexander.
It is very clear from communicating with him that he has been very well brought up. He is very respectful, highly intelligent and a charmer. You would think that you were dealing with an older person from the way that James handles himself. He is a sign of hope for all single parents. He is a sign of hope for people that may have given up on their dreams. He is a sign of hope for the future. He is an inspiration to everyone.
For more information on James Valitchka, visit his website http://www.jamesvalitchka.com
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