Local Nonprofit Celebrates Global Good


Contact: Wendy Milette
[email protected]
1278 Glenneyre, #286
Laguna Beach, CA 92651


Laguna Beach, CA - 11/27/10 The MY HERO Project started small, as a concerned mother’s idea of how to bring positive role models to children increasingly bombarded by negative media. Fifteen years later, at The 6th Annual MY HERO Short Film Festival last weekend, it became clear just how much the nonprofit organization and its vision have grown. The MY HERO Project is now an ever-growing online platform for sharing hero-themed essays, images, audio and films as well as the resources to produce them. It facilitates communication and collaborations that bridge political, religious and cultural barriers to form a global community, working toward a more peaceful world.

Wendy Milette, Ron Kovic, and Joanne Tawfilis award Fauzia Minallah the Ron Kovic Peace Award at the 2010 MY HERO Short Film Festival
Wendy Milette, Ron Kovic, and Joanne Tawfilis award Fauzia Minallah the Ron Kovic Peace Award at the 2010 MY HERO Short Film Festival

Fauzia Minallah, winner of the Festival’s Ron Kovic Peace Prize for her expression of nonviolence through children’s art, felt that “to be held up as a hero to children all over the world by the MY HERO Project is indeed a very important step in promoting peace. The MY HERO Project gives positive role models to children regardless of racial, religious or political background.”

At the Film Festival, over 200 students, teachers, directors, producers, artists and activists met to share their inspiring stories and to discuss ways they could work together towards engendering positive social and environmental change. Internationally renowned activists shook hands, exchanged cards and discussed current projects.

Kenji Williams performed a portion of his Bella Gaia Multi-Media Symphony, which combines original classical music with moving images of human impact upon the Earth as witnessed from space. Williams explained to the audience, “we have to engage the right brain to establish an emotional relationship with this information. Ultimately, humans act on what they feel not what they think.”

Kenji Williams, winner of the 2010 MY HERO Film Festival Media Award
Kenji Williams, winner of the 2010 MY HERO Film Festival Media Award

Others discussed the power of film as a medium for establishing this connection. Student producer Makena Young felt that “it gives you more of a voice that other people can see and experience.”

Though The MY HERO Film Festival included award-winning films produced in India, Africa, Haiti, Costa Rica, Pakistan, Australia, Argentina, and Canada, students from Laguna’s local Elementary, Middle and High Schools were strongly represented. Laguna Beach winners included Morgan Mills, Jack Winter, Austin Dodge, Ryan Cavanaugh, Michael Fenner, Jackie McMahon, Nicole Davidson, Claire Black, Madison Sinclair, Rosie Morreale and Luc Lamontange.

Subjects of their films focused on local issues and the heroes that arise. LaMontagne made a documentary on the founder of ZeroTrash and his committment to helping the community recycle. Jackie McMahon—who one First Place in the Middle School Category as well as a special Hero Award— illustrates the importance of The Buddy Club, a group she and her sister founded to foster social interactions between their peers. Dodge and Cavanaugh produced “Why Burma” to highlight the work of activist and fellow filmmaker John Anthony. Jack Winter’s film on Surfer’s Healing raises awareness about the organization’s activities with autistic children. Michael Fenner shows his classmate’s efforts to save the world through the ECO Club at Thurston Middle School. Morgan Mills honors the volunteers of Dream Street Foundation, a camp for terminally ill youth. Finally, four Top of the World Elementary students interviewed Ranger Winter at Crystal Cove State Park to learn about the importance of preserving nature.

Jackie McMahon, 1st Place Middle School winner for 'The Buddy Club'
Jackie McMahon, 1st Place Middle School winner for 'The Buddy Club'

Film Festival Director Wendy Milette, who was once a teacher at Top of the World and helped several of the students produce their films, said of her experiences with these students that “the kids are the heroes—all committed to making the world a better place.” She feels “it really inspires hope when young people are so engaged with the discovery and celebration of heroes, as seen with the films for Laguna Beach this year.”

The MY HERO Project embraces the individuality of emerging artists and the heroes who inspire them; it ushers these young voices into the global community of socially conscious artists by encouraging collaborative learning, greater cultural awareness, and a clear vision for world peace.

Please visit the MY HERO Project website for educational resources and an online archive of creative works that address the topic of heroism.

To view the winning films from this year’s festival please visit

Entries are now being accepted for The Laguna Hero Festival in May. Deadline for submissions is April 1, 2011. Entries are also accepted for The 7th Annual MY HERO International Film Festival in November of 2011. For more information, visit the festival web site at: .

Page created on 1/11/2011 4:45:18 PM

Last edited 7/10/2017 6:17:15 PM

Related Links

Kenji Williams - Read about Kenji Williams on MY HERO
Bella Gaia - Watch Kenji Williams' 'Bella Gaia', the 2010 MY HERO Media Award recipient
The Buddy Club - Watch Jackie McMahon's 'The Buddy Club', 1st Place in the Middle School category
Ron Kovic on MY HERO - Read and learn more about Ron Kovic