Sadako Sasaki was only two years old when she survived the destruction of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.
In the years following the bombing, she was a happy and healthy little girl.But by 1954, Sasaki’s health took a turn for the worse and a year later she was diagnosed with leukemia as a result of exposure to radiation.
Shortly after her diagnosis, Sasaki began making paper cranes, after learning about an ancient Japanese legend that says anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted a wish.
In 1955, after folding countless paper cranes in hopes for world peace, Sasaki died at the age of 12.
Her death captured the nation’s attention and in 1958 the City of Hiroshima constructed the Children’s Peace Monument in honour of Sasaki and thousands of other children who were killed during the bombings.
Since the death of Sasaki, the paper crane has become a symbol of global peace and on Saturday (Feb. 28) the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Art Lab will be holding an origami workshop called 1,000 Cranes for Peace.
The workshop will be led by instructor Shino Yoneda and will see participants learn how to construct paper cranes.
The cranes will then be donated to students at Kwalikum Secondary School in Qualicum Beach, who will then deliver them to the Children’s Peace Monument next month as part of their 1,000 Crane Project for Peace.
Yoneda said the workshop is more than just learning to fold pieces of paper.
“It takes some time to fold hope, love and peace into cranes,” Yoneda said. “I am teaching you this and that and I will guide you to get to the final step, but it is very important and meaningful to get together and hope for peace.”
Yvonne Vander Kooi, art education coordinator, said the gallery is thrilled to be working with Yoneda and that the workshop is a great way to tell people Sasaki’s story.
“I think it is a way to educate people about this particular incident of our past and for people to share in it creativity,” Vander Kooi said. “It is a symbolic gesture, but I also think it is a powerful story and one that is important for all of us to remember.”
The origami workshop runs at the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s downtown location from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Feb. 28. The workshop is free and open to anyone of all ages.
It is encouraged that children under the age of eight be accompanied by an adult.
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