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P.A.W.S. event promotes self-health with origami

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Students attending "One Thousand Paper Cranes" were able to create colorful paper cranes out of origami paper. Photo by Agata Poniatowski.  

Members of Peers Advocating Wellness Services, an entity of T.E.A.M. Baruch that practices and promotes self-health, hosted “One Thousand Paper Cranes” on Nov. 10 during club hours. The origami-based event drew a large crowd into a room that only had enough seats for 12 people.

Fernando Carriel, a member of P.A.W.S. and the primary coordinator of the event, started off by addressing the large crowd with a basic introduction of the activity. Located behind him on a whiteboard were instructions that urged participants to not be afraid of asking for help.

The table in the center of the room was lined with dozens of colorful, already-made paper cranes. Upon starting, Carriel encouraged participants to take the square sheets of paper from the table and follow along with the process according to his instructions. At first, he and other members directed participants to fold the sheet in half, followed by a series of lengthier steps.

“I did not realize that so many people would come to this event,” said Jerry Dai, a sophomore. “I expected to be one of six or seven people. It did seem like it functioned well for its size, though. I think that making cranes, that folding paper really works to de-stress a person.”

Despite the crowded room, participants continued to trickle in throughout the duration of the event in order to make the cranes. There were light refreshments available, but Carriel encouraged participants to make five cranes prior to serving themselves.

Freshman Andrina Tschelovsky said that she did not anticipate that she would spend the entirety of club hours at the event, but once she found out more about the project and the meaning behind it, she decided that staying was worthwhile.

“It was a great event, and I did not get the entire process down, but it was nice to just sit down for an hour or two and create something meaningful. Fernando and the other teachers were really patient and encouraging, said Tschelovsky”

Although the session was primarily intended to function as a de-stressing event for the students in attendance, it had a secondary purpose. Throughout the event, Carriel reminded students that members of P.A.W.S. would send the completed origami to Cranes for Cancer, a program at Primary Children’s Hospital in Utah.

Cranes for Cancer asks volunteer groups and participants to create 1,000 cranes in order to have a wish come true, an activity inspired by Japanese tradition.

In Japanese culture, a crane symbolizes hope and is often referred to as the “bird of happiness.” Primary Children’s Hospital uses the origami cranes to bring hope to children living with or affected by cancer.

P.A.W.S. members devoted the entire duration of club hours to making the 1,000 cranes. Students interacted with and instructed one another.

Although there was limited space, participants continually entered the room and filled up seats as they vacated or stood in the back and participated.

“I did not know the true purpose behind the event until I heard about it from another person. I think that if more people knew the meaning behind a crane, more people would have come out today. It was really crowded already, but it would have been more effective if more people did it,” said junior Katrina Cavanet.

According to tradition, the cranes are usually strung together and given as gifts, as stated on the Primary Children’s Hospital's website. The website also allows participants to create virtual cranes and attach a hopeful meaning prior to submitting them.

The goal is to fold 200,000 origami cranes, drawn from the fact that there are currently 200 children diagnosed with cancer at that hospital.

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