Congratulations to one of Midnight Media’s clients, Margaret Hepworth, of The Gandhi Experiment, who won the 2016 Sir John Monash Award for Inspirational Women’s Leadership. A splendid award ceremony was held at the Monash Gallery of Art on Wednesday 11th May with hilarious and charming MC Brian Nankervis as well as Mayor Geoff Lake and other Monash councillors. Sasha Buntman of Midnight Media submitted the nomination and application. Here is an excerpt from the submission:
“Margaret Hepworth, of The Gandhi Experiment, is a peace educator. After nearly 30 years of secondary teaching, Margaret moved into social justice through education. The Gandhi Experiment’s vision is world peace through education. Not about Gandhi, but about the essence of his messages – “Change begins with me”. Always choosing non-violence, developing your truth force and taking positive action. Teaching non-violence as a choice, teaching teenagers to better understand themselves to make better choices and teaching teenagers how to move from apathy to action.
Reaching over 1000 teachers and 1000’s of students, Margaret’s highly successful student conference: Global Participation – it starts with us, allows secondary students to consider their role and relationship with global and community issues. Developing ourselves as global citizens, conflict resolution, forgiveness and reconciliation, anger management, “Almost Impossible Thoughts” (students step forward as the key players in their own design for change) etc. This conference has been held at numerous schools across Melbourne, India, Pakistan and Fiji.
Ms Hepworth was invited to speak at the launch of the Afghan Australia Initiative (April 2015). President Mr Nazer Nazir, himself a Hazara, Afghani refugee, has a remarkable drive to build a harmonious community here in Melbourne. They sought a grant from the local Dandenong City Council to hold a student forum, with the aim of including Afghani youth. This was held in Dandenong (March 2016). Over 60 students from 7 different schools participated – their engagement level was remarkable. Mostly local students and a class of Scotch College students. The aim is to get young people mixing, sharing their thoughts and beliefs, in circles they aren’t usually involved in. This is the incidental trust building that occurs. Partly sponsored, it came to fruition through hours of voluntary time.
Margaret became connected to schools and teachers in Pakistan, running 5 workshops in various schools. Meeting dedicated Pakistani educators, to discuss critical thinking, gender studies, and peace education – her talk was on “Peace Education in the rigorous academic curriculum”.
A member of Initiatives of Change, a voluntary organisation seeking to make a positive difference through a grass roots approach, Margaret embraces their inclusive approach to all cultures and belief systems. Also a member of Creators of Peace, bringing together women from all facets of life. It helps women understand their role as peace builders within their own communities. Women are invited to share their powerful stories. For some, this is the first time they have ever been given ‘a voice’. Margaret worked with a team of Australians, a New Zealander and Fijians, to facilitate Peace Circles with Fijian women (October 2015).
Presenting The Gandhi Experiment as a seminar to the Melbourne Muslim community organisation, Benevolence, headed by Saara Sabbagh (September 2015), Margaret shared ideas and thoughts for building bridges of trust. Margaret was invited to speak to the teachers at the Minaret College School – facilitating an interactive workshop for 175 teachers.
Designing numerous educational activities teaching students to think more laterally, Margaret launched “Collaborative debating” at Scotch College in August 2015, which re-frames traditional adversarial debating from a frame of “I win, you lose” to “When I win, you win too”. The ‘win’ is finding a solution to the problem.
Margaret’s book The Gandhi Experiment: teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens will be published this year. The Dinner Party to Save the World, The Best Forgiveness Role Play Ever and Collaborative Debating are a few of the highlights in the book. This book aims to reach millions globally, to help others actively teach non-violence, conflict resolution and ‘almost impossible thoughts’ for a better future.”