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Chelsea Cellar, an Art teacher at Dixon Middle School, challenged her 3D art students to fold 1,000 origami cranes by the end of the year and send them to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan.
To kick off the project, the class learned all about Japanese culture and the history behind World War II. As students immersed themselves in the material, they learned of an old Japanese legend – the legend of a thousand paper cranes. Similar to the idea of wishing on a shooting star – the legend promises a wish granted to anyone who folds 1,000 cranes (called a senbazuru).
After learning about the general events of WWII, Cellar then told her students the story of Sadako Sasaki – a girl who was only 2 years old when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Though she survived the blast, Sadako developed leukemia when she was 12 due to the radiation from the bomb.
During her hospitalization, Sadako learned about the legend of a thousand paper cranes. She earnestly began folding every piece of paper she could find to try and reach 1,000, wishing to recover and return home to her family.
Sadako ended up folding over 1,300 cranes before she died in October 1955 at the age of 12.
Her determination to keep folding as she succumbed to the illness is truly inspirational and hopeful. Now, the immortalized message at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan represents Sadako’s last wish – for the world to never see a third atomic bomb dropped.
“When I visited Japan in 2019, I was moved by the Memorial and by the statue that commemorates Sadako and all children that lost their lives to the bombs,” shared Cellar, “ There are glass cases there where senbazuru are donated by people all over Japan and the world.”
Dixon’s 3D Art students met their goal of 1,000 cranes and are working to send them to Japan to be donated to the Peace Memorial. Like Sadako, Cellar’s second semester students have made a new goal of another 1,000 with the wish for victims of COVID-19 to have a speedy recovery.