James Valitchka

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James Valitchka, is a motivational speaker and author who works to inspire children, students and professionals worldwide.

He won the "Most Inspiring Youth of the Decade" Diamond Award, which is given to the student who "demonstrates consistent community service, global leadership, determination, inspiration, achievement, motivation, is an overcomer, a negotiator and is dedicated." This award is predicated on providing six social references. Valitchka provided sixteen reference letters, two years of transcripts and participated in an interview. Valitchka won the 2013 International Barack Obama Influencer Diamond Award,[1] which was presented to Valitchka on January 27, 2013 and is awarded to the student who has inspired millions of people across the globe to take part in their school community, their political community and the world in general. The student has a presence, an aura of success and excellent public speaking skills, which sets them apart and enables them to empower others.

Valitchka wrote his first bestselling novel, Superheroes Don't Have Dads, at eight years old. When he was only 10 years old he became an anti-bullying advocate and motivational speaker, as well as a goodwill ambassador for literacy. He has traveled throughout Canada and internationally, encouraging children everywhere to read and write. He has also spoken at several Safe School Forums and anti-bullying workshops and conventions. He launched international programming and conferences called Literacy Can Change Lives with the support of Air Canada, Rosemary Sadlier, the Ontario Black History Society, Herbert Carnegie's Future Aces, Sutton Place Hotels, HUB International and Judge Stanley Grizzle, who is his godfather. Valitchka has been selected as one of ten finalists for the "Most Inspiring Youth of the Decade Award" and the Diamond Award.

To date Valitchka has published eight books, including I Love Grandpa, Superheroes Don't Have Dads, Locked Up Mysteries, Free To Be Me, Jess and Cade's Spy Missions, Maybe I'll Be a Pastor, and I'm Not Brown I'm Human and Greater Expectations.[2]


Valitchka is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, whose father is from Wisconsin and mother is from Ontario. He balances his free time between his two homes in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He loves to play basketball, it is his passion. Valitchka was raised by a single mom who taught him a love of reading and writing He started writing at the age of five, dictating his ideas and stories to his mother. His book Superheroes Don't Have Dads became a best seller when he was nine years old. Valitchka has received international media coverage from CNN, CTV National News, CBC National News, and Global TV National News, as well as Making a Difference with Susan Hay.[3][4][5]

Valitchka has written seven children’s books and one novel for youth and adults. His novel Superheroes Don't Have Dads addresses issues of single parent homes, self-esteem, and bullying. It has sold over 100,000 copies and is recognized internationally as a teacher's resource by educators, social workers, doctors and journalists. His book I'm Not Brown I'm Human was written in honour of Black History Month and discusses issues of love, acceptance of differences and how words can hurt. The theme of the book is that all humans are beautiful and we can overcome these situations with education, forgiveness, and hope. Valitchka's full-length youth novel, Greater Expectations, is a heroic tale that openly relays the realistic challenges faced by teens today. He said that there were times when he was writing it that tears came to his eyes, but he kept writing because he wanted to share the pain and joy of the many children and teens he had met during his travels.[6]

Since 2004, Valitchka has been an International Goodwill Ambassador for Literacy, anti-bullying advocate, touring schools and communities all over Canada encouraging children everywhere to read, write and make positive choices. Valitchka was the youngest recipient ever of the Canadian top 20 under 20 National Award for innovation, excellence and leadership on May 6, 2005. He also won the Me to We Canadian Living magazine award in 2007 and has recently won the Province of Ontario's June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award that was presented to him by Premier Dalton McGuinty on April 28, 2008 along with the Ottawa Civic Appreciation award to presented to him in Ottawa on May 5. He created the annual student conference Literacy Can Change Lives in 2006 and later created Valitchka’s Stand Tall and Speak Out: Voice for Children and Youth in 2008. The same year Valitchka founded Global Youth United for Success,[7] which is now run by a team of ten volunteers and has over one million members. He is described by those who know him as honest, intelligent, respectful and a team player.


Superheroes Don't Have Dads

An eight-year-old boy who is being raised by a single mom 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.[8]

The book is based on an autobiography of Valitchka's life as one day when he was feeling upset he realized that "Spiderman did not have a dad, he lived with his aunt and uncle, Batman did not have a dad, he lived with his butler and Superman lived with adopted parents." Valitchka's strong faith in God and this connection with his superheroes gave him the strength and determination to turn his life around. That year he wrote his bestselling book and won first place in a writing contest with over 700 entries.[9]

Superheroes Don't Have Dads addresses issues of self-esteem, bullying, single parent homes and personal change, all from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy.

I'm Not Brown, I'm Human

This multicultural treasure is an honest yet innocent book about the need to accept other races, cultures, colours, and religions. Valitchka's forthright words focus on how we can love each other, looking beyond skin color and differences to the rich history, spirit and potential that each and every person possesses.[10]

I'm Not Brown, I'm Human talks honestly and openly about experiences of racism and how words can hurt. Valitchka's expressive writing suggests that the solution for those who experience racism and the people who are afraid of difference is forgiveness, love and hope.

Greater Expectations

When James was 13, he launched a multicultural book for teens, Greater Expectations, for Black History Month on January 27, 2008. The novel gives teens hope and strength in the midst of cyber-bullying, teen pregnancy, teen homelessness, child abuse, teen suicide, racism, class divisions and education.[11]

Valitchka believes that children and teenagers can change the world and can make a difference in a powerful and meaningful way. He hopes that Greater Expectations will encourage children and youth to speak out about their struggles so that changes can be made and that help can be given.[12]

Free To Be Me

Tyson is a young, energetic seven-year-old boy whose teacher believes he has ADHD. Tyson is intelligent and loves to laugh, but the medication turns him into a depressed zombie who doesn't laugh or feel, and he has a constant headache and sore stomach. His mother prays for the return of her laughing son and finally decides to let George be himself, free of medication. As he grows up he discovers that he is really just a kid with lots of imagination and energy.

Locked Up Mysteries

Four courageous nine-year-old boys are 2004s Hardy Boys. They have a clubhouse and private investigator badges. They work with the police to solve mysteries in their home town. They are unbeatable!

I Love Grandpa

We all love our grandparents. Seven-year-old James loves his grandpa Ralph a lot. When Grandpa becomes ill, James learns about love and courage. He learns to understand and help his grandpa. It is known to be his best book and it is a pleasure to read.

Jess and Cade's Spy Mission

Jess is just your average girl with an annoying stepbrother named Cade, who bugs her at every chance. In Grade 4 things start getting crazy at school and the fun, sporty principal, Ms. Mollig, starts to change into a mean, scary woman who must be avoided at all costs. Then Jess and Cade stumble upon a top secret formula that could turn the students into zombie slaves. Is Ms. Mollig's evil twin sister at the bottom of this?

Jess and Cade race to solve the mystery first, but Cade just won't keep his nose out of her clues ...

May Be I'll Be A Pastor

A young boy and girl wonder aloud "whether there really is a God". They run away from home to find the answer, only to find God in the process.

Other works[edit]

Valitchka has partnered with Air Canada, The Honourable Lincoln Alexander, Educate With Vision, Rosemary Sadlier, The Ontario Black History Society, HUB International, Herbert Carnegie Future Aces, Judge Stanley Grizzle (his godfather)to launch his Literacy Can Change Lives National Student Conferences. In 2007, over 13,000 people of all ages in both Canada and the United States benefited from Valitchka's message of hope and determination. The conference expanded to South America.[13]

On April 16, 2008, Valitchka successfully launched his own international company called James Valitchka's Stand Tall and Speak Out, VOICE for Children and Youth programs & conferences in Toronto, with over two hundred students from ten schools throughout Ontario in attendance. That same year, he launched Global Youth United for Success.[14]


Valitchka has attended both public schools and private schools on scholarship. He currently attends the University of Waterloo, and graduated from Redeemer Christian High School in Ottawa, Ontario in 2013.[citation needed]


  • International Diamond Award "Most Inspiring Youth of the Decade"[15]
  • International Diamond Award "Barack Obama Influencer Award"[16][17]
  • Province of Ontario's June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to him by Premier Dalton McGuinty on April 28, 2008.[18]
  • Youngest recipient of the National Top 20 Under 20 award in 2005[citation needed]
  • Planet Africa Academic Award[citation needed]
  • Dare Arts Creative Award[citation needed]
  • Do Something Grant Award in 2006, which allowed him to put on his Literacy Can Change Lives conferences throughout North America, Chicago and New York that year.[citation needed]
  • Free the Children's Me to We and Canadian Living Magazine's Community Service Award for children 12 and under.[citation needed]
  • National Advocacy Award for speaking out against child abuse and injustice while encouraging others to oppose any tragedies involving children.[citation needed]
  • New York's Brightest New Novel Award for addressing child abuse as one of the many issues and other challenges facing children and youth.[19]
  • Ottawa Civic Appreciation Award for Education, which was presented to him in Ottawa on May 5.[20]

International tours[edit]

Valitchka visited Argentina in the Spring of 2008, as well as in July. A documentary filmmaker from the National Film Board shot footage of his tours and is still compiling material for a documentary on his life[citation needed] . Valitchka toured Argentina with a life changing message about literacy and anti-bullying. Valitchka said that a teacher told him about one kid who was a bully, but after listening to Valitchka's message, the kid said that he really touched his heart and made him want to change[citation needed] . Valitchka said that his visit to Argentina also changed his view and now he has an international perspective of what children and adults all over the world are experiencing.[21]

On July 14, 2008, a press release was written by the Ministry of Education in Argentina:

James, a young Canadian writer visits schools in Argentina. The Plurilingüe School N° 7 was of the one of 9 received with a pleasant surprise in the visit of the young Canadian writer only 13 years old, James Valichtka, to speak in English with 5th and 6th grade students. James Valitchka wrote several books that were a success in Canada and will be visiting Buenos Aires for the next few days. James' books approach the subject of the respect by encouraging cultural diversity and coexistence.[22]

Valitchka's toured Europe in August 2008, where he visited Milan, Italy and other European locations.

Valitchka's 2012 and 2013 speaking engagements are at several Aboriginal schools and reserves, as well as local schools and AntiBullying conferences throughout the world. He also volunteered on the Obama 2012 U.S. Presidential election.

Valitchka launched a "Starting Over" program in August 2012 for young offenders and young adults. He created the program in 2009 after speaking and volunteering at the Halton District School Board's Section 23 school for At Risk Students, but was awaiting funding. The program pays for up to 6 months of housing for youth and young adults who are committed to becoming contributing members of sociey[citation needed] . The fund also pays a weekly honorarium for any youth or young adult who attends the Alpha course by Nicky Gummel at a local church on a weekly basis. The church program provides emotional, social and spiritual support for youth and young adults who sincerely want a second chance at a successful life.


  1. ^ Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/02/07/pride_swells_in_black_history_month.html
  2. ^ National Library Archives, Wellington Street, Ottawa and http://www.jamesvalitchka.com under "References".
  3. ^ CTV National News at 11:00 pm, May 9, 2005
  4. ^ http://www.top20under20.ca Top 20 under 20
  5. ^ http://www.diamondaward.ca/awards-ceremony.html Diamond Awards
  6. ^ Harris, Kris:Teen to give anti-bullying talk at local school, Jan. 24, 2008, http://www.northernlife.ca/News/Lifestyle/2008/01-25-08-bully.asp?NLStory=01-25-08-bully
  7. ^ http://www.globalyouthunitedforsuccess.com
  8. ^ Canada Books Online
  9. ^ Global TV News, Winnipeg, 2006
  10. ^ Mary Ellen Mason: AETQ, April 2007
  11. ^ Press release: 13 year old launches novel for TEENS, Greater Expectations on January 27, 2008
  12. ^ James Valitchka's Stand Tall and Speak Out speech at OISE on April 16, 2008, Toronto
  13. ^ http://www.jamesvalitchka.com
  14. ^ http://www.globalyouthunitedforsuccess.com
  15. ^ http://www.diamondaward.ca/Awards.html
  16. ^ http://www.diamondaward.ca/Awards.html
  17. ^ http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/02/07/pride_swells_in_black_history_month.html
  18. ^ April 29, 2008[citation needed] http://www.citizenship.gov.on.ca/english/news/2008/b20080429.shtml And Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, TORONTO, Apr 29, 2008 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX), http://www.zibb.com/article/3146335/The+June+Callwood+Outstanding+Achievement+Award+for+Voluntarism
  19. ^ http://www.metowe.org AND http://www.dosomething.org
  20. ^ Volunteers honoured at seventh annual Civic Appreciation Awards ceremony, May 7, 2008,http://ottawastart.com/story/7741.php And http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/volunteerservices/civic_appreciation/volunteer_recognition_2008_en.html
  21. ^ Argentina :: Página principal :: Nuestras Oficinas :: Calendario cultural y académico
  22. ^ Buenos Aires, July 14, 2008, Press Office, Ministry of Education