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Once upon a time, in a far away land, there was an ordinary bird, Pecky. Pecky was a plain looking, shy, and reserved hummingbird. She was not particularly strong, nor considered herself brave. She was always leaning on her parents. Her family lived in The Silent Woods, named by the mayor, Mr. Fluffy Tail. Despite the name, the forest was anything but quiet. The chitter-chatter of all the creatures, from rodents to leopards, echoed through the babbling streams to the forest sky. On one memorable day, the birds went wild screeching for help while the foxes, bears, and raccoons chatted up a storm about what would become of them. The energy in the forest felt like a birthday party with thousands of animals all talking at once. The billowing smoke started to seep through the tree branches. Red sparks lit up the dry bushes and leaves then quickly burned along the tree bark. The inferno had begun to creep close to their adobe.

In a wave of panic, Pecky started to see how this huge wall of fire would demolish her habitat, the food source, and endanger her family and friends’ lives. Hopelessness swept over her like a snowy avalanche. She felt as terrified as a mouse stuck in a glue trap. Initially, Pecky just froze and did nothing to help change her situation. She figured that the stronger bears could just break through the trees to put out the fires, and the foxes could just dash back and forth to bring buckets of water. She thought to herself, “Couldn’t the other animals take care of this problem?” At the same time, she doubted her feeble wings, her dainty toes, or her tiny brain can compare to the other mighty creatures. So she didn’t do anything and just stood idle.

Yet as time passed by, she heard her friends’ desperate cries for help, holding onto each other with tears streaming down their faces. Many others scurried around looking for cover and safety from the fire that seared through the trees. As she watched the treetops crumble into ashes, the twigs in their family nest fall apart, and dying worms drop down to the ground, she realized that she had to contribute with whatever skills and talents she possessed or risk losing the home and family she loved.

Regardless of her size and strength, she was now determined to figure out a solution just by being herself. Pecky found a high branch. Using her loudest outdoor voice, she shouted: “Pack your bags! Put on your fire-proof clothing! Run towards the lake!” She felt so small and insignificant believing she couldn’t change the fate of what would become of her family and friends. Pecky used her agile moves to flap her nimble wings to create gusts of wind to try to put out some small flames. For a while it seemed like the fire was retracting, but then another burst of flames exploded towards the forest like fresh lava spewing out of a volcano. She felt dejected but didn’t let it paralyze her. She immediately started gathering the bigger birds to line up above the nearby lake and asked them to flap their wings in unison. She joined the effort despite having the smallest wings. This movement blew the water out of the lake towards the flame, extinguishing the fire until it was no more.

In this story, Pecky was just an ordinary bird that did extraordinary things. She saved the forest from being burned down which gave her family and furry friends a home to return to. In real life, there are scary wildfires that harm people, ruin entire communities, and also endanger animals and their habitat. Sometimes, when life gets hard, I tell myself I am not the strongest, fastest, or smartest to overcome it to make any real difference. It’s easy to just walk away and shrug the problem off my shoulders and let others solve it.

Pecky is me. I know I have the gift of a strong voice and I want to be the change that I want to see. Although I can’t put out a forest fire, or completely get rid of pollution, or stop ice caps from melting, I can do little things with lots of love. When I see a piece of trash on the playground, I can pick it up rather than leave it there and wait for someone else to throw it away. Instead of running the car to go to near-by places, I can ride my bike so there is less exhaust and smog in the air. I can show care by talking and keeping my friend company when they feel down. I believe every life is precious and deserves to be treated well. Not only that, I matter because I am special and unique in my own way.

The world is a stage where everyone plays a part. I play a small yet important part of this enormous “stage” that is our planet, for I have spirit, life, and a voice. There are basic human traits that everyone should have like honesty, kindness, loyalty, and generosity. Just like Pecky, when we get knocked down and drained of hope, we can get back up and fight with strength and words, with friends by our side. I can make a difference in this world, for I matter.

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