The Starfish Story – Loren Eisley

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A recent participant in a Mental Health First Aid training shared the following story.  Such a powerful reminder of the difference each of us can make.

The Starfish Story

By: Loren Eisley

One day a man was walking along the beach, when he noticed a boy hurriedly picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean.  

Approaching the boy, he asked, “Young man, what are you doing?”

The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.  The surf is up and the tide is going out.  If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die”

The man laughed to himself and said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make any difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said,

“I made a difference to that one.”


Upon completion of the training the participant shared,

“This course will change lives; the lives of those people who take it and learn from it, as well as the lives of those who will benefit because someone took this course and used what she/he learned from the course to touch someone else’s life.”

-Cynthia S. Hirtzel, PhD

Professor, Chemical Engineering & Engineering & University Education, Research and Administration [Retired]

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