Super Action: “But I am just one person…”

If you’ve been a part of the Paragon family for a little while, you will be already aware of the importance to us of taking action and making a difference. This is one of our core values, and it features strongly throughout our program curriculum and Superhero Challenges.

One of the key messages in this area is that even the smallest of actions can make a real difference. Sometimes people see that change is needed, but they get stuck with the idea that they are just one person, and whatever they can do to help will not make much difference. This is not true. Very often, small actions repeated make a big difference. Furthermore, small actions multiplied by lots of people can bring significant change. When people see one person acting to make an impact, they may feel motivated to join in the effort.

Small actions can make a difference

A little while ago, we set a Superhero Challenge about taking action. The challenge was to pick up any safe litter that we might come across throughout the day. One of our families shared a story of their experience of taking up the challenge when they visited the snow late in the season. The snow was beginning to melt, revealing litter that had been buried by snowfalls over the previous months. At a popular gathering place on the mountain, our family noticed the rubbish and decided it was the perfect opportunity to complete the challenge.

Although the kids were initially a little self conscious of strangers watching them pick up rubbish, they were soon encouraged by feedback about their actions. Not only were they thanked and complimented by people for trying to make a difference, but others also began to join them, inspired by their example. After binning a bag full of litter in just a few minutes, one of the kids observed, “Imagine if every person at the snow didn’t drop any more litter, and if they all picked up ten pieces each too. This mountain will be so clean and beautiful for the summer.” This is a great story about how our small actions can make a difference.

The starfish story

There is another story that we like to share about the power and importance of small actions. We call it the starfish story. Early one morning a young child and their Grandad were walking along the beach. The tide had just gone out and thousands of starfish had been stranded on the beach. With the sun shining down, the starfish were very likely to die. As they walked, the child reached down, picked up a Starfish, and placed it back into the ocean. Then they did it again, and again. After the third time, the Grandad stopped and asked, “What are you doing?” The child replied, “The starfish cannot get back into the water on their own. If they stay out they will die”. The Grandad said, “There are thousands of Starfish washed up. You won’t be able to make much of a difference.”

The child bent down again, picked up another starfish, and again, put it into the ocean. “It made a difference to that one.” The Grandad was so impressed that he also started putting the starfish back in. These stories capture the meaning of Super Action: small actions multiply. By making the choice to take action we can make a difference, even if it is a small one.

Doing something small is always better than doing nothing. Being just one person does not need to limit the power of our actions if we are proactive, responsible, and lead by our positive example.

Image credit: We are very grateful to artist and illustrator Ilana Greener who created the starfish image for us.

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