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What is Starfish and what does it do?

The Starfish Programs are for schools, parents, fathers, and workplaces. Wherever there are relationships in play, Starfish can help. Putdowns and destructive attitudes of ridicule can severely damage a person's heart, leaving a person with no real spirit to move on and be productive or feel any self-worth. The putdown issue is the first step to the stairway to tragedy in the lives of many people and the result is often an act of self-destruction or senseless violence that is preventable if dealt with in its initial stages.


(Click to see the ladder of violence)
Starfish aims to stop the chain of events that can lead to violence or self-destruction at its starting point, before it results in huge problems. This chain of events starts as seemingly "harmless" putdowns, insults, or threats, but often leads to things like drinking, drugs, vandalism, gangs, murder and even suicide. How much better it is to go after the root cause than have to deal with the scarred victims and aggressors. Starfish aims for the cause of problems.


After all, as he himself says, there is still work to be done. At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat for every person.

Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service."

— Mr. Rogers

Who does Starfish work with?

There are starfish programs for Schools - for teachers, staff, and students. This workshop is designed to heighten the participants' awareness of and sensitivity to "putdowns," and eliciting reactions regarding our feelings when we give or receive these negative responses in school, at work, and at home.

In "Parents in a New Millenium", our workshops are designed to actively involve the parents in a variety of interactive learning programs that enhances the development of better communication skills, resiliency building, anger management and much more. We hope to prevent the need for harsh intervention in relationships.

A "Wake-Up Call For Dads" is a workshop where the "fathers" will be actively involved in a series of shared discussions regarding their perceived role and their desired role of Dads in the home. Hopefully, we will learn from each other and positively influence the home environment. Fathering is a fulltime effort requiring Dad to "be there" in a variety of caring and nurturing roles. A true provider is so much more than a person who supplies material possessions.

"Communicating to Form a United Team" is a great worshop for businesses that will provide the participants with ideas and techniques that will improve communication and relationships in the workplace. Building your workforce into a team through a variety of team-building activities is an integral part of this presentation.


Starfish founder, Denny Barger

Dennis Barger provides consultant services to numerous educational and community organizations. His programs and presentations cover a range of topics such as: classroom management techniques, parenting workshops, staff/professional development, peer leadership, retraining for students/staff, grief & loss workshops, and conflict management seminars.

His experiences in the field of education are extensive. Denny worked as a sixth grade teacher for thirty-two years, and was a former Head Basketball and Football Coach at Karns City High School. He also founded the Petrolia Valley Youth Center, a drug-free, Christian center for young people located on 300 acres of ground donated by Pennzoil Corporation.

Denny has been recognized for his many accomplishments through various awards including: 1989 Butler County Teacher of the Year, 1990 Butler County Commissioner's Award for Community Service, 1991 Thanks to Teachers Finalist, 1994 Jefferson Award Semi Finalist, 1996 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Finalist, and 1997 Butler County Conservation District Educator of the Year.

He has presented to well over 100,000 students and 18,000 adults by way of college conferences, school retreats, civic & business group presentations, youth group seminars, industrial/workplace teambuilding events, family/parent workshops, church education programs, and school in-service seminars. His consultant service known as H.E.L.P (Helping Everyone Live Positively) For You, is the perfect acronym to describe the kindness shown to all by this generous and compassionate individual.

To find out more about Denny Barger, please read the articles below:

  • Personal Testimonial by Denny Barger
  • Program designed to turn kids into anti-bullies, By Kristen Garrett, Herald Staff Writer, Nov. 25, 2002
  • Starfish Program Makes a Difference - AntiBullying Program Introduced in All Buildings, Armstrong School District, Winter 2003