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2nd Place Essay Winner: 15-19 Age Group

"The Butterfly Effect"

Brienna Herold
Metro Deaf School-Minnesota North Star Academy
St. Paul, MN

Is it possible for one individual to change the world? Yes, it most definitely is possible! The things I do even in my small community can impact the larger world community through a phenomenon called the "butterfly effect." The butterfly effect refers to how a tiny change can lead to another change which in turn leads to yet another change, ultimately affecting the big picture in a major way. Even though I am just one high school student, I can help change the world through small actions. Even the little things I do to help others, like helping to fill food shelves, giving blood, and taking care of our environment, can make a difference in both my community and the world community thanks to the butterfly effect.

Because the economy is in such a bad state today, many families are having trouble making ends meet. This is a problem I can help alleviate by donating to local food shelves. It is a simple matter for me to open the door to my pantry, weed out canned and boxed food that my family does not need, and bring them to the nearest food shelf-which, in my case, is the church in my town. A family in need would be grateful to find food waiting for them. My donation might help that family live through the week. Perhaps, the next week, the parents might finally find jobs. After saving up a sizable amount of money, they would be able to send their eldest son to college to study medicine. That boy could have it written in his destiny to discover the cure for cancer! What if I happened to develop a terrible case of leukemia as I grew older? My life would be saved just because I donated several bags of food to the local food shelf! By helping others, I helped myself too. You never know where the butterfly could land.

Another problem in the world today is that so many people seem to be facing tragedy. Just look at the suffering in Haiti due to the recent earthquake. I would like to help, but I realize I don't have much money. Instead of texting a certain word to XXX-XXX to have five dollars added to my cell phone bill to contribute to Haitian relief funds or whatever, I can choose a different way to help out such as donating blood. There are injured people overflowing hospitals in Port-au-Prince and nearby cities, who may need blood transfusions. I'm of age-I need to be sixteen years old, and I am seventeen-so I can easily go to my local hospital and volunteer to donate blood. The Red Cross website states that "every minute of every day, someone needs blood. That blood can only come from a volunteer donor, a person like you who makes the choice to donate. There is no substitute for your donation." Even if my blood does not reach Haiti, I would still help somebody else. Perhaps the person who receives my blood is someone of great importance, such as the president of the United States, suddenly and severely wounded in a freak accident involving a sliding glass door in the White House, and in need of a blood transfusion. Again, the butterfly is very unpredictable.

Environmental pollution is also one of the biggest problems in the world that I can influence through my actions. I do my part to make sure my community is a pleasant place to live in. I bring glass, paper, and plastic to the local recycling center. It's free to recycle, so I don't have a reason not to. On the other hand, there are more than plenty of reasons to recycle! Take this one, for instance: What if I did not pick up that sharp piece of metal lying in the middle of the street? Through the butterfly effect, it could end up causing quite a disaster. Left neglected, the metal could get lodged under a wheel, suddenly puncture somebody's car tire, and send their vehicle careening off a bridge in a terrifying, fatal crash. What if there was even an oil barge passing underneath the bridge at the exact same moment? It could be the Exxon Valdez incident all over again. My neglect of a small but sharp piece of trash could lead to a fiery explosion, deaths of dozens of people, animals, plants, and years of labor to clean the oil pollution out of the water. The fact that I could've stopped it all from happening in the first place is a sobering thought. If I just pick up that piece of metal from the middle of the street and find a better place for it-ta-dah, I've helped others and made a difference in my community. That car will now drive past safely. The oil barge will pass underneath the bridge without its passage being so rudely interrupted by an exploding vehicle. The people, animals, and plants will continue their lives.

I don't need to become the next Mother Teresa to help others in my community. This is a relief, since I am still only a student in high school. No matter who I am, no matter what gender I am, no matter if I'm deaf or hearing, I can make a difference in my community by helping others through giving food, donating blood, and recycling to keep our environment safe and clean. With the power of the butterfly effect, my small actions just might make a big difference.