Cranes for peace |

Cranes for peace

FRISCO – It takes 46 folds, pinches and pulls to transform a piece of paper into a miniature crane. And it takes 1,000 cranes to make a prayer for peace.

That’s the goal Shanna Koenig has established for the 100 or so Mountain Mentors and other citizens she hopes will show up Friday afternoon to transform paper into Japanese peace cranes as part of the 9-11 Peace Crane Project.

The folding of cranes is now thought to represent hope for health, prosperity and good fortune. Today, people throughout the world gather to fold cranes, many of which are sent to countries in times of unrest.

Koenig wants the children to fold peace cranes as a way of remembering the terrorist activities of a year ago. Hundreds of thousands of strings of cranes were sent to a church near the site of the World Trade Center after two airplanes crashed into the towers last year.

“They are prayers for peace for us and the souls of the people who were lost,” said Linda Axelrod, owner of the Flying Crane in Frisco, which is supplying paper for the local crane-folding event. Axelrod lived in Nagasaki, Japan, for three years and often visited the Peace Parks there and in Hiroshima. The parks were routinely draped in strings of cranes.

“I think it’s going to be a way for them to participate in a peaceful way the remembrance of Sept. 11,” Koenig said. “It’s very hands-on, very creative and this way, they’re doing something rather than just remembering.”

The crane is among the basic shapes schoolchildren learn to make, Axelrod said. An experienced folder can create one in three to five minutes.

According to Koenig, four Japanese exchange students visiting Summit County will teach Mountain Mentors to fold the cranes. The Summit Seniors have granted them permission to use the new community center until they finish folding 1,000 birds. The cranes will then be individually strung and, on Sept. 11, distributed to local businesses.

Kids and adults who belong to Mountain Mentors – a youth program modeled after Big Brothers/Big Sisters – will gather at the new Community and Senior Center Friday to learn how to fold cranes and remember the ramifications of Sept. 11. The event is open to the public.


The art of origami is believed to have begun in China in the second century and spread to Japan 400 years later. Initially, paper was so scarce, origami was reserved for the wealthy or for nobility.

In Japan, the crane is a symbol of peace. People throughout the world fold cranes in memory of Sadako Sasaki, who was 2 years old when America bombed Hiroshima. Ten years later, she was diagnosed with leukemia – then called the “atom bomb disease” by the Japanese. While hospitalized, a friend reminded her of a Japanese legend: Cranes live for 1,000 years, and a sick person who folds 1,000 cranes will become well again.

Sadako folded cranes throughout her illness; when she died, at age 12, she had folded 644 birds. Classmates folded the remaining 356 cranes so she could be buried with 1,000 birds.

Each year on Aug. 6, thousands of paper cranes are placed beneath a statue in the Hiroshima Peace Park by people expressing their hope for a peaceful world. Engraved on the statue is, “This is our cry, this is our prayer; peace in the world.”

“I think now that Sept. 11 is coming around, it’s going to be more apparent that we are living in a different world,” Koenig said. “I think it’s important to do something like this so they can be involved in remembering what’s going on. We as adults can take it as opportunity to talk and help them understand what’s going on out there.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

9-11 Peace Crane Project

– What: Mountain Mentors and citizens fold 1,000 cranes to remember the lives lost Sept. 11.

– Where: The new Summit County Community and Senior Center; Fremont Room

– When: 3 p.m. Friday until done

More info: Shanna Koenig, (970) 668-4154

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