By Ashley Koo
What does it take to get a cancer patient to smile?
A thousand paper cranes.
This year, the Art Club is working on a project for a small organization called “Cranes For Cancer” that connects donors to cancer patients in a unique way: folding paper cranes.
The organization’s mission is to provide baskets or vases of 1,000 cranes to uplift spirits and bring hope to cancer patients. Why cranes? According to a famous Japanese legend, a wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury, is granted to anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes.
This concept was popularized by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who developed leukemia after being exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II.
Inspired by the Japanese legend, she set a goal to create 1,000 paper cranes at the age of 12. In a popular version of Sasaki’s story, she folded only 644 before she became too weak to fold any more, passing away soon after. In her honor, her classmates agreed to complete the rest of the project for her.
Helena Wang, co-president of the Art Club, said, “We can make 2,000 cranes and help two patients or even 3,000 to help three patients.” Due to privacy regulations, the organization cannot reveal personal information about the patients who are receiving the donation, but the club is excited to help others through their art regardless. Wang said, “Folding cranes is something anyone can do, and it is a great example of how one does not need to be an amazing artist to create impactful art.”
In previous years, the Art Club worked on The Memory Project, a service project in which club members drew portraits for underprivileged children from the Philippines. According to Wang, this amazing experience inspired the students to continue to help others with their art.
This is the first year the Art Club is partaking in this project. According to Wang, “Alex Lim (the other co-president) and I are pretty proud that the club transformed from a club that only painted murals two years ago to a club that brings smiles [to] people’s faces.”
For the duration of the school year, the art club will be assiduously folding paper cranes in the hope of making one more cancer patient smile.