Our Story

August 4, 2015

to tatou Kōrero

We are a not-for-profit Social Services provider in Taranaki. Starfish Project is made up of a focused group of like-minded people – social workers, teachers, therapists, and counsellors.  We have created a community resource in Taranaki where young people and their whanau can seek support that is tailor made and strengths focused.

We became concerned with the growing number of young people in our community who had difficulty accessing services to help address their primary mental health well-being.  While services are available for young people with acute needs, we found young people who did not meet that criteria had limited community resources available to them.

These issues range from primary mental health care needs, emotional management, alcohol and substance abuse, and social or family difficulties. Starfish Project strives to provide a solution to help reduce the barriers that young people face trying to access the help they need.

Starfish works alongside a number of Government agencies to maximise their ability to reach out and support young people and their whanau.

Additionally, Starfish offers Professional Social Services Supervision, and Assessment services to other NGO’s.

 The Starfish Story

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves.  When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water” the youth replied.

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

We all have the opportunity to help create positive change, but we sometimes find ourselves thinking, “I’m already really busy, and how much of a difference can I really make?”   This is especially true when we are talking about addressing massive social problems but it pops up all of the time in our everyday lives as well.  So, when we were looking for a name for our agency – this story seemed particular relevant to what we were wanting to achieve.  You might not be able to change the entire world, but at least you can change a small part of it, for someone.

They say that one of the most common reasons we procrastinate is because we see the challenge before us as overwhelming, and that a good way to counter that is to break the big challenge down into smaller pieces and then take those one at a time – like one starfish at a time.  And to that one starfish, it can make a world of difference.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.  Margaret Mead