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The 1,000 Crane Project.

In celebration of the life of Nathan Clark, who passed away in 1998, we undertook the "1,000 Crane Project." Nathan was a resident here at The Home of the Innocents Pediatric Convalescent Center (PCC), in Louisville, Kentucky--a 46 bed facility serving children from birth to 21 years of age who nave multiple disabilities and severe chronic medical needs. Nathan's parents designated funds for our 1,000 Crane Project which includes mailing 1,000 origami paper cranes across the nation and completing a decorative kimono (a traditional Japanese garment) project. Both projects served as ail opportunity for the students, staff, and residents at the PCC to learn about another culture, create works of art, and remember our friend.

With the help of Carol Lee and Naomi Murakami of the The Crane House, (a Japanese cultural center), and visual artist Susan Jaffe, we learned the art of making origami cranes. They also taught us the crane's history and legends. In addition, The Crane House donated a kimono which we decorated and dedicated in memory of Nathan. We created atmosphere by reading stories about cranes and kimonos, and we held a Japanese tea party.

We learned that in Asia, the crane is the symbol of long life and happiness, good health, hope, encouragement, and conveys good wishes to others. The crane also represents safety, luck, honor, respect, and strength. The birds are a reminder that miracles can happen. Our goal is to mail out 1,000 origami cranes in Nathan's memory to embody good wishes for health, hope, encouragement, and love. So far, we have mailed out over 350 cranes to our friends and supporters across the United States. We hope by sending out these cranes, Nathan's memory will touch the hearts of many.

Creating cranes

Though constructing origami cranes can be very detailed and precise, there are other parts that do not require a great deal of precision. These steps make great activities for kids.

1. Let the children pick out the type of paper they want for their crane. Make it a game by placing different types of paper on a switch-operated spinner. The type of paper the children will use is determined by where the spinner lands.

2. Let the children cut the paper into squares with battery-operated scissors and a switch. With some help, the children can fold the pieces of paper into cranes and then string them together for decorations. We used ours in the classroom (right) and on the kimono.

Colorful kimono

We decorated our kimono with paint mixed with tea, and painted the kimono using tea bags. Other decorations can be used such as: ribbons, hearts, cranes, and fans. We strung cranes on the kimono in a "rainbow formation," which symbolizes peace.

After the kimono was completed, a crane-making party was held for Nathan's family, where they were taught how to make cranes. They also wrote personal messages to Nathan on rice paper. The papers were then folded into a fan and the fan was placed on the kimono. Both were mounted in a permanent place for all to see and enjoy.

Debby Entwhistle is a special education teacher at the Pediatric Convalescent Center; The Home of the Innocents, Louisville, Kentucky.
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Author:Entwistle, Debby
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:May 1, 1999
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