Cranes for Change: Student Initiated Service Learning

“I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world.”  (Sadako Sasaki)

Cranes for Change bake sale to benefit Camp Sunshine is Friday, May 26, at 1:30pm on the blacktop.

Cranes for Change is the self-adopted name a group of Breakwater fourth graders have chosen to describe a project inspired during their semester long integrated study of history’s peacemakers. After reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr, the students began folding small origami cranes and stringing them. Together, they set a goal to make a thousand paper cranes as did the protagonist of this true story of a young girl who contracts leukemia as a result of the atom bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima. Sadako’s story touched the students deeply, and they wished to help spread Sadako’s message of peace and courage. 

In their own words:


Z: We were all in a reading group together and we read Number the Stars [by Lois Lowry]. After that we were interested in learning more about why there are wars and what happens. I wanted to learn about history and specifically big things that happened that changed history. What changes history.

L: First Lindsay [3/4 teacher] gave us a book called Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and taught us how to fold canes and then we decided to give them away. [The book] was about a girl. First she got leukemia from the atom bomb in Japan.

Z: It was World War II.

L: She said, “I’m going to make a thousand paper cranes.”

G: A nurse told her “if you make a thousand paper cranes you will be granted you one wish.” 

L: But she only folded a little over seven hundred before she died.

A: But then she passes away before she’s finished and when she dies all her classmates come together and finish the cranes. 

G: They buried the cranes with her …

L: … and then they made a club. A club to make cranes for peace …

G: … and to make the message about war heard. The book is really thin and only has a small amount of words but we just read it all in, like, one day.

A: Like one day or two days.

G: We just read it really fast and needed to do the cranes.


Z: We read the book and then we are all at a table and Lucy read the sad part of the book and got a really good idea to donate cranes to a hospital. We talked to Lindsay and then we started folding cranes. But we were really stuck on what hospital…  

G: We asked Mr. Sullivan if we could have a bake sale to raise money, too. Cranes and a bake sale.

Z: ... we wanted to help other people. People who are sick.

A: Molly [preschool teacher] said, “Well, I know the Director of Camp Sunshine. How about giving them your money?

L: Because it’s a camp for kids who are either terminally or really sick and we want to help give them a happy summer.

Z: Children with life threatening illnesses. Not like us. Not free like us. So it’s because Sadako was sick with a life threatening illness and because it’s a way to sort of make a difference in somebody’s day.

L: To help them just be kind of happy and give them a good feeling because they must be feeling really crabby.

A: It’s an overnight camp because kids can’t go to regular overnight camp. The camp helps children who need help having a really good summer. There’s a lot of support for kids on campus.

Z: We’re donating cranes to Camp Sunshine and the Director says they’ll use them to decorate their welcoming ceremonies which they do every time a new kid comes. Then we’re also raising money with our bake sale to give to the camp for their programming and for scholarships.

A: We really want to go to visit Camp Sunshine to show the kids how to fold cranes but we’re not sure how to make that happen.


G: Doing our part in a community to help people in need ‘cause there are a lot of problems that some people are trying to solve but some people don't do anything. It will be a feeling that we have inside to know that we didn’t just sit around and watch something happen but we did our parts. Like if we ever saw on the news that Camp Sunshine was going to close but we knew we did our part to keep the help going for kids who need it.

Z: Not watching the world just totally pass by me while I watch people. When I feel we are contributing then I feel good. I’m not just making a ton of cranes for me and just giving the money to myself but I’m helping.

A: We really talk to each other about how good we feel when we finish another crane or when Mr. Sullivan said we could have a bake sale or Camp Sunshine says yes to the cranes. We really feel good. We feel good together.

Z: I also feel like it’s a thing we can do. We found a way we can actually help with something. Something we can actually do. Like Grace said there are a lot of problems and sometimes people don’t know what to do. I feel like we’re helping not just the people who are getting the cranes but we are helping everyone because when some people get the care that they need the whole world benefits.

As the students studying peacemakers discovered this semester, the acts of courage and compassion that define peacemakers are evidenced in large scale historically recognized events, as well as in everyday kindnesses. 

See you Friday, May 26, at 1:30pm on the blacktop for that bake sale!