Igniting Change Panel Discussion

Tuesday, September 15 2020

In August 2020, Learning For Life’s Co-Founder and Chair, Mary Muirhead participated in a virtual panel discussion inspired by the work of the charity Igniting Change and it’s amazing founder, Jane Tewson CBE.

Mary writes about Igniting Change and Jane Tewson, and how they’ve ignited change for her and Learning for Life. 

I was recently invited to join award-winning journalist and author, Martin Flanagan, and entrepreneur, business leader and Igniting Change Board Director, Radek Sali, for a panel discussion about finding your purpose, igniting the flame and breathing life into an idea, dream or vision. My contribution was based on Learning for Life’s beginnings, the strength of our co-founders, and how it became my purpose.

The inspiration and centrepiece of the virtual panel discussion was the amazing Jane Tewson and Igniting Change, the organisation she founded. Through Jane’s generosity of connectivity, compassion and spirit, Igniting Change has walked alongside Learning for Life since our beginning and continue to support and inspire all aspects of our work.

Jane is an extraordinary force for good who believes in humanity. Martin Flanagan came to understand this in the two years that he spent speaking with and spending time with Jane, walking in her shoes and getting a better understanding of just exactly what makes Jane tick. The result is “The Art of Pollination” (Hardie Grant Books, 2020), a glimpse of Jane’s life from her upbringing in England, learning in adulthood that she is dyslexic, founding Comic Relief and Red Nose Day in the UK where she brought Sir Richard Branson and top comedians (Ben Elton, The Young Ones, Rowan Atkinson, Billy Connolly, the list goes on) into her visionary actions for social justice, to starting Igniting Change in Melbourne. Igniting Change brings to life Jane’s belief that combining extraordinary lives subsequently amplifies and builds capacity of organisations and people working in not-so-glamorous areas with thorny issues, building hope where there is despair and showing that curiosity and changing our perspectives can make a huge impact.

Jane Tewson - Ignting Change The Art of Pollination - Martin Flanagan

I have followed Jane as a change maker, thought leader and social justice advocate, and I have been inspired by her when building our own L4Life Village. Jane believes in seeing the person not the label, and this is how we see our L4Life children and autistic people of any age. Only by getting to know each child and their unique strengths, challenges, passions and interests, can we individualise programs that build their skills so they can move more confidently into the future.

Jane believes we should change our perceptions; walk in others’ shoes too. At L4Life, if we can educate our Village and extended community in how to appreciate, understand and value the needs of the autistic community, then we can build two-way bridges of inclusion and belonging.

I was honoured to be included in this panel about Jane’s passion and energy to keep finding solutions to complex problems. Jane inspires me and has led to other people/organisations walking alongside Learning for Life who have, in turn, built our capacity to help more children and families strive and thrive.

– Mary Muirhead OAM