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Attorney General Yost Awards Anti-Bullying Grant; Helps Nonprofit, Others Kick Off ‘Kindland’ Initiatives


(WICKLIFFE, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost visited northeastern Ohio today to award $7,000 to a Cleveland-area nonprofit for anti-bullying education, the first grant provided from the sale of Ohio’s specialty license plate aimed at preventing bullying.

“The Values-in-Action Foundation is an ideal fit for this grant,” Yost said while at an afternoon assembly at Wickliffe High School in Lake County. “Our world needs all the kindness it can get, and this nonprofit teaches young people about the importance – and the infectiousness – of treating their peers respectfully.”

Values-in-Action, based in the Cuyahoga County city of Mayfield, promotes social-emotional learning, kindness and workforce readiness through trainings that have reached 750 schools in 73 of Ohio’s 88 counties and 4,500 schools nationwide.

“There are no losers in our growing effort to spread kindness far and wide,” said Values-in-Action President and CEO Stuart Muszynski, who established the nonprofit in 1995 with his wife, Susan. “We all win.”

Values-in-Action created the Kindland Initiative, which strives to make kindness the dominant value nationwide. In the Cleveland area, numerous schools, families and businesses have embraced Kindland, as have 85 nonprofit partners and 400 community leaders.

During the school assembly attended by Yost – which coincided with National Bullying Prevention Month in October – Values-in-Action announced two Kindland-related efforts:

  • Operation Comic Book, presented in partnership with the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) and the Rotary Club of Cleveland
  • The Mayors’ Challenge for Kindness
Operation Comic Book is a curricular exercise that invites Ohio schoolkids in kindergarten through the 12th grade to envision the community of “Kindland” and its superheroes using comic-book art. Student submissions will be displayed at MoCA beginning the first weekend of May 2023, corresponding with National Free Comic Book Day.  

The Mayors’ Challenge for Kindness is a friendly competition proposed by mayors in Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain and Summit counties that urges residents of roughly 60 suburban municipalities to perform acts of kindness and document them on social media.

“I am proud to promote Wickliffe as the first city in Lake County to be ‘all in’ with regard to the Kindness Challenge,” said Mayor Joe Sakacs, who joined Yost at the assembly. “I feel Wickliffe is the kindest city around, and we are happy to partner with the Wickliffe City School District and Values-in-Action to continue to encourage the importance of kindness throughout our communities and in everyday life.”

Also joining the attorney general were Pepper Pike Mayor Richard Bain, president of the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association; Woodmere Mayor Benjamin Holbert; and Wickliffe Schools Superintendent Joseph Spiccia.

The state’s anti-bullying license plate is rooted in legislation introduced in 2018 by then-Sen. Dave Greenspan of Westlake. A measure implementing the idea became law in March 2019, specifying that the Attorney General’s Office oversee the design and creation of the plate.

Two months later, Yost partnered with the Ohio Education Association to sponsor a statewide design contest for kindergartners through fifth-graders. The winning entry – a multicolored peace sign accompanied by the words “Bully Free” – was created by Brooke Balser, then a fifth-grader at Independence Middle School in northeastern Ohio.

Brooke’s design, available to the public since October 2019, was chosen from among 171 entries. The plates cost $35 a set (in addition to the annual registration fee), with $25 of every sale earmarked for anti-bullying education.

Hannah Hundley: 614-906-9113

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