Shining a Light

0
382
Share this:
students learning_My Hero
Students around the world use the My Hero website to discover inspiring stories and media. | Photo by My Hero

Local nonprofit The My Hero Project honors global changemakers to help youth realize their own potential.

By Tanya A. Yacina

 

Through the various programs they sponsor, Laguna Beach nonprofit The My Hero Project shines a light on people making powerful, positive change in the world while simultaneously celebrating the best of humanity through media, art and technology.

“Since 1995, visitors have been invited to participate online, and share and discover stories, art, short films and music that honor diverse heroes from all walks of life,” says Jeanne Meyers, who co-founded My Hero and now serves as the organization’s director. “… The heroes [that are] honored work to protect the environment, for social justice, peace, human rights, and [to] show their love for family, friends and community through their generosity and courage in the face of adversity.”

Jeanne Meyers_credit Liz Kelly
Jeanne Meyers, co-founder and director of The My Hero Project | Photo by Liz Kelly

My Hero began as a TV pilot, but shifted into its current internet presence when the pilot wasn’t picked up. Motivated to provide children with positive role models in the media and to use the power of technology to share the good that people are doing worldwide, the founders launched online in the 1990s as a commercial-free, nonprofit educational project to celebrate the best of humanity, one story at a time.

“We shine a light on positive role models to help students of all ages realize their own potential [and] find their own voice to make positive change in the world,” Meyers explains. “My Hero project is a virtual learning platform and multimedia library that promotes values, media arts education and digital literacy.”

Meyers also says My Hero plays a role in classrooms across the globe, drawing more than 20 million visitors from 197 countries to the website each year. The safe, noncommercial online venue allows students to discover, create and share things like essays, artwork, audio and films about extraordinary people who are making a difference in the world.

Dedicated to closing the digital divide so that access to the project’s content and storytelling tools is accessible to students everywhere, My Hero operates with support from grants to provide media arts training and resources to teachers and students worldwide. The project has won several awards for its educational programming, including a five-star rating from Common Sense Media as well as honors at the Anthem Awards for education, art and culture in both 2023 and 2021. My Hero also recently received a grant of more than $500,000 from the Scripps Family Impact Fund, which will help support its annual film festival and media arts education programs.

 

Wide-Reaching Resources

With its web-based design, My Hero is able to impact youth around the globe through its varied programming.

 

Film Festival Winners on stage with their bird trophies_My Hero
My Hero International Film Festival participants | Photo by My Hero

Cinematic Changemakers

The My Hero International Film Festival, which celebrates its 19th year this November, showcases a diverse range of short films, documentaries and animations that highlight heroic acts and values that shape our world. Winning films address issues such as climate change, sustainability, poverty and inequality, isolation in old age and more while honoring the heroes who are working hard to address these global challenges. “From unsung heroes making a difference in their communities to larger-than-life figures, the festival brings forth tales of courage, resilience and selflessness,” says Jeanne Meyers, co-founder and director of My Hero. “It serves as a platform for student and professional filmmakers … [as well as] audiences to explore the power of storytelling and its ability to ignite positive change.”

 

Media arts sessions with a My Hero educator_My Hero
Media arts sessions with a My Hero educator | Photo by My Hero

Targeted Teachings

Teachers from around the world can register to participate in My Hero programs with their students and receive free mentorship and training from the organization’s educators. “At a time when the one-size-fits-all approach to education is being challenged by the data, our resources help teachers engage students with diverse learning styles,” Meyers notes. “Students can work on their projects individually or collaboratively. They can also choose their storytelling media, all with the support of My Hero resources and tutorials.” The project’s media library promotes cross-cultural understanding and diversity. These educational resources help bridge the gap between home and school while addressing each child’s own culture, knowledge and interests.

 

musicians at a Jazz and Poetry Month Salon 1_My Hero
Musicians at a jazz and poetry salon | Photo by My Hero

Sensational Salons

To honor activists and champions for good around the world, My Hero hosts special salons that highlight the work of artists, writers, poets, filmmakers and musicians. “My Hero has produced several salons over the years at the Herb Alpert Educational Village in Santa Monica, bringing together poets, including Amanda Gorman and David Milch, as well as … [talented] musicians for a celebration of poetry and jazz,” Meyers says. “Since the start of COVID, My Hero has been the proud host of the Eva Haller Salon Series every Saturday from September to June, … virtually.” Haller is a 93-year-old activist, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor who brings together leaders in philanthropy, science, art and the environment for discussion. My Hero’s salons are archived on its website at myhero.com.

Share this:

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here