By Anna Richard

A young girl was walking on a beach. She suddenly came upon thousands of stranded starfish, each of them fighting for their lives in the beating sun, with seagulls and sand crabs nipping at their poor little bodies. The little girl gently started to pick up one starfish at a time, carrying them back into the safety of the ocean. After some time of doing this, a man appeared from the distance. He looked at all the starfish and then at the girl, and asked, “Why are you doing this? Just look at this beach, there are way too many, there is no way you can save them all.” With a starfish in her hands, the little girl looked up at the man, smiled, and said, “Well, it makes all the difference for this one”.

The starfish on the beach story has been shared with many for the purpose of demonstrating that anyone can make a difference in someone’s life, even if we can’t help everyone.

But wait, what if we changed the outcome of this story? What if the man, instead of telling the little girl that she could not save them all alone, helped her in picking up more of the starfish and bringing them back to safety?

What if all of the beach goers started to help? What if the lifeguards joined, the families in their beach homes, everyone on that ocean street, the church on the end, the school on the other side, the local corner store up the hill, the businesses downtown, the local non-profits, law enforcement, and the rest of the neighborhood? What if the whole beach community got involved and picked up the stranded starfish, held them, and carried them back to safety? Well, the more people that get involved, the greater the impact they would have, and the more starfish would be saved!

We have our own “stranded starfish” right here in Highlands County, represented by our community’s children and adults who are struggling with trauma. No matter what their situation is we can be part of bringing them back to safety, by creating a trauma-informed community, that is safe and resilient, built on acceptance and healing, that surrounds, supports, and protects children and adults from trauma/re-traumatization and its adverse effects.

How will YOU help our own “stranded starfish” here in Highlands County?

If you want to learn more about our Highlands County Trauma- Informed Initiative, please contact Anna Richard, Director of Children’s Services, with the Champion for Children Foundation at or 863-382-2905.