Ugly Ducklings Inc’s fundraiser begins!

official fundraiser ugly ducklings inc

Here’s the LINK to donate, and participate for a chance to win one of the 7 prize packs with Jennifer Morrison’s autograph… Continue reading


Sophie’s Ugly Duckling Story

from a small town but with big dreams banner

Sophie shared this very positive story last year. Perhaps she never felt as an Ugly Duckling in the most traditional of ways, but still, she felt she wass slowly turning into a swan, and we could all learn a couple of lessons from this tale.

Hello! My name’s Sophie. I guess I should start by saying that I’m from a small-ish town in Australia where opportunities for the more ‘creative’ careers are seldom to none. I’ve spent my whole life wanting to be either an Actor or a Writer. Unfortunately, even at the best of times, both are extremely difficult professions to break into, and, given my geographical disadvantage, I spent most of my years resolved to the fact that I would probably be neither.

Nonetheless, I continued to actively participate in my Drama and English classes, as well as my school’s musical productions.

Sophie as Dorothy - Wizard of OzIn 2011 (when I was in Year 11), I was privileged to play Dorothy in the school’s production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Throughout the entire rehearsal period, I kept thinking to myself: ‘This is what I want to be doing!’ Then the performances started…

Show after show, I was having the time of my life. Finally, I began to believe that maybe I could make an actual career out of performing.

At the same time, I was really getting involved with the writing side of things as well! By 2011, I’d had three of my short stories published in children’s literary books sold nation-wide. I was really beginning to feel hopeful!

childrens book written by Sophie Volker At the end of my final year of High School in 2012, I graduated top of the year for Drama, English, and English Extension. All my hard work had finally paid off! But there’s a huuuuge difference between being successful in High School and being successful in the big, real, scary world.

I guess you could say that my final test came on the 16th of March 2013. The day that would decide if my personal willpower and determination could overcome the obstacles, fear, snide remarks, and blatant nastiness that the real world has to offer.

It was the day I shaved all my hair off to raise money for cancer research in Australia. It had been something I’d wanted to do for years, but never had the guts to actually do. And when I finally did commit to it, I faced a lot of people saying it was a bad idea.

“You’ll look like a boy…You’ll back out before it happens… You don’t have the guts… blah blah blah…”

Let me just say that I am SO glad I ignored those people! The day my hair came off, I had never felt so proud. I felt like I was part of something big, and to be able to share that day with all my family and friends was absolutely incredible.

World's greatest shave 2013. AustraliaThey were all so proud, and I’m still so grateful to every single person who supported me through it. I know this seems a bit off-topic, but what I’m trying to say here is that I passed that test. I did something that I wanted to do, regardless of what the ‘haters’ said. I did something that made me truly smile, in spite of what others said I wouldn’t have the guts to do. I did it.

And now, thanks to the support of all my fellow Ugly Ducklings (especially Erin and Marie, who made this whole phenomenon happen), I know that I can be whatever I want to be.

Next year I’m moving to the bigger city of Brisbane, where I’ve been accepted into a Bachelor of Creative Arts Majoring in Writing. While I’m living there, I’m also going to sign up with an acting agency to pursue the art of performing that I love so much.

Both of these plans make me so happy and I’m so excited to jump into the next chapter of my life. I’ll spread my wings and become the swan I’ve been dreaming of for all these years!

And who knows –maybe with a whole lot of ducky-ducky-luck and hard work, I could be blessed to act alongside the beautiful Jennifer Morrison, or perhaps Jennifer Lawrence!

Thanks so much for reading my story. Hope you enjoyed!

Operation NORMAL


We are so excited to announce that our QuackNTest just got bigger!  We want to support MENTAL FITNESS Inc. as much as we can!  Check out this video announcement that shows the new prize we added and also tells you more about the contest!

THIS is where you donate!  MENTAL FITNESS INC Indiegogo and e-mail proof to to get your entries in!

The girl who gave her birthday

she donated on her birthday

I remember when Allison asked me the name of the non-profit organization to which Ugly Ducklings Inc donated part of its profits.

Then, she said something that really struck me. In the best of ways.

I remember how good it felt after I had used the money that my mom had gotten to give to each of her children (a Christmas pay or something like that) to buy cookies for all my aunts and uncles. There was something left, which I used to buy the wrapping paper and the ribbons. There was a huge smile on my face.

girls who donated to NORMAL in schools

Some of Allison’s friends who donated

I was so excited and happy about what Allison was asking that I felt the need to interview her and ask her how she thought of this and why she was doing it.

First, I was super curious to know why she decided to start with NORMAL in Schools. And this was her answer:

I decided to start with NORMAL in Schools because I heard about it through The Ugly Ducklings on Twitter, and my birthday was coming up. People were asking me what I wanted, and I decided I wanted everyone to donate.

What’s the importance in giving? 

The importance in giving is, when you are fortunate enough to not need, or want anything, it’s very important to give back to those who do. If you can offer help, it is important to offer it where it is needed.

Allison's friend donated to NORMAL in Schools

But then, how did she get the idea? Was it from her parents, or perhaps it was already a tradition? Well, none of the above. Allison said that she got the idea from seeing a lot of her friends asking people to donate to charities for their birthdays. “After noticing my friend’s generosity, I decided to take after them, and have them donate for my birthday”. 

Sidenote: Sigh, I’m getting even more excited

I was even more curious question after question. Because it is one thing to have an idea, but it is another thing to make up your mind and actually DO IT. So, I asked Allison what made her decide to give others, instead of others giving gifts to her.

I made the decision to help others instead of getting gifts because to me, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I did not really need anything for my birthday. I thought that instead of that, what felt right was to help others. Even if I helped just a little bit, it was totally worth it.

Another necessary sidenote: A little bit? To me it’s so much more than a little bit.

I want to say that I feel something strange and wonderful in my heart. I’m overjoyed to see people like Allison making part of this wonderful community, which exists and is constantly fed by all of you <3 I also felt the need to ask her what The Ugly Ducklings meant to her, and this is what she had to say about it…  

The Ugly Ducklings movement, to me, means acceptance. I think the Ugly Ducklings is about everyone accepting each other for who they are. People should not be afraid to express who they really are. Nobody should be so consumed with the idea of people judging them, that they forget who they really are.

lauren donated to NORMAL in Schools

That’s it. I rest my case. I don’t know what else to add after this answer.

I’m kidding!  We have one more thing to share from Allison’s interview; however, I’m still speechless after such beautiful words. 

The last two questions I had for Allison were, of course, about telling others to do the same thing. It’s true, sometimes we just feel like we want so many gifts: the latest iPod, or the latest DVD release that we’ve got to have before the rest; or perhaps we want our parents to buy us a plane ticket to go to that place we’ve always wanted to go. But then, it all comes down to how you feel after, instead of getting things, you give them.

I just hope that I inspire others to do the same thing. I hope that on my friend’s birthdays they decide to ask everyone to donate instead of getting gifts. In other words, I would definitely tell others to donate on their birthdays. Even though getting gifts is great, I find it more meaningful to help others.

annie allison donated to NORMAL in SchoolsAnd that, my amazing friends, is something we had to share with you. I can’t wait for it to be October 31st (yep, my birthday is on Halloween) to see how all my friends and family donate money to NORMAL, instead of sending me things. I can’t wait…

– Marie,

The Tail Shaker.
The Ugly Ducklings Inc's swan