On Henrico visit, Kathy Ireland urges children to ‘recognize the beauty in differences’

Henrico Citizen
Henrico Citizen
Kathy Ireland reads to a group of children at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden May 19, 2022. (Katie Castellani for the Henrico Citizen)

Dozens of local children, dressed in their best spring fashionwear, gathered around former supermodel Kathy Ireland in Henrico Thursday as she read from the book A Peaceful Garden, written by Hardwired Global’s founder Tina Ramirez.

The reading fittingly took place at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where Hardwired hosted her to celebrate the launch of its education initiative, “The Peaceful Garden Project.” Hardwired hopes to provide parents and teachers resources centered in human dignity and freedom of religion, conscience, speech and expression through the initiative.

While the children were taken with the tale, Ireland made sure to remind them the of the moral of the story.

“You are all so different but so beautiful in your own way, and when you all come together your beauty shines like a beautiful bouquet of flowers,” Ireland told them mid-reading.

Though A Peaceful Garden is a children’s book, its theme of respecting differences was echoed throughout a public forum with Ireland and Ramirez following the reading. Townhall reporter Rebecca Downs moderated the discussion focused on Ireland and Ramirez’s involvement with Hardwired and The Peaceful Garden Project.

After learning about devastation in other countries stemming from hatred for others, Ramirez said she was inspired to found Hardwired in 2013. Through developing an educational training program meant to bring people of all backgrounds together, Ramirez said her goal for Hardwired was to teach others to live in peace and respect fundamental freedoms.

Hardwired’s work implementing curriculums in schools overseas that support human rights and freedoms – especially in Iraq, where children were being brainwashed to hate those who were different – is what led to The Peaceful Garden Project, Ramirez said.

“It’s really important for kids to know that they actually have inherent human dignity,” she said. “The rights that come with dignity are essential for us to live in a peaceful society and that’s the lesson of the Peaceful Garden Story.”

Both Ramirez and Ireland acknowledged that while Hardwired has made significant impacts globally, there is still work to be done to overcome divisions in the United States.

“I think our work overseas can be translated here so we can overcome some of the challenges we are facing now,” Ramirez said. “I hope to see young people rise up and wage a peaceful protest and not let anyone divide us based on our differences,” Ireland said

Ireland, a long-time educational advocate, has been involved with Hardwired since 2014 and said she was hooked on to The Peaceful Garden Project after witnessing Ramirez’s training in action.

“It was simple, yet profound,” she said. “But it’s really teaching people to recognize the beauty in differences and that we don’t have to be the same. It’s so encouraging to know that this work is being done, and it’s making a difference.”

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