1. What is the National Crane Project?

The National Crane Project was inspired by David Heard, a ten year old boy from Easton, PA who has stage IV Neuroblastoma.  After Professor Mary Jo Lodge invited David and his family to attend the Lafayette College Theater production of A Thousand Cranes in Sept. 2010, Lodge and the cast donated the 1000 cranes folded for the production to David, who in turn donated them to the hospital where he is being treated, Lehigh Valley Hospital in Muhlenberg, PA.  David got the idea to try to install 1000 cranes in all five hospitals where he was treated, and with help from Lafayette and from East Stroudsburg University, another PA school that did the play, he has currently installed 2000 cranes – the second set is at St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia.  After national media attention focused on the story, cranes started pouring into the Heard family from around the country, and David raised his goal to try to get a set of cranes in every pediatric cancer center in the country.  He is currently trying to get to 220,000 cranes, one set of 1000 for every hospital.  The Lafayette College community is helping the Heards to create mobiles from the cranes that they’ve received (an estimated 13,000 so far) at an Origami Crane Stringing Party on Dec. 11, 2010.  Lafayette is also launching a National Theatre project to encourage other colleges to perform the play and adopt a local cancer center.

2. How can I get involved?

There are many ways to be a part of the project.  You can fold cranes and send them in to the project.  You can organize a crane folding party in your area and send in your cranes (and pictures!) from your party.  You can adopt a local pediatric center and fold cranes and take them directly there.  You can work with children being treated at the centers to help them learn to fold cranes.  If you are a theatre professional, you can stage one of the plays related to Sadako Sasaki and raise awareness about the National Crane Project.  You can participate in the National Crane Project playwriting contest.  You can contact Professor Lodge at Lafayette College if you want to do more at lodgem@lafayette.edu.

3. Can kids help?

Of course!  David is just ten and is already making a big difference in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Origami crane folding is a great activity for children, but is a little challenging for children under 7.  It is often easier for children to learn by folding larger (8” paper) cranes..

4. Where do origami cranes come from?  What is the history of the origami crane?

Origami is a Japanese compound word meaning “folded paper”.  While it is believed origami originated shortly after the invention of paper, and developed in several areas in Asia, today origami, and especially origami cranes, are associated with Japan and Japanese culture.

5. Why 1000 cranes?

There is a Japanese legend that anyone who folds 1000 cranes gets a wish.  That tale was made popular in the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl who contracted cancer as a result of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and who tried to fold 1000 cranes before she died.  Her story inspired her classmates and later the world.  There is a statue of Sadako in Hiroshima Peace Park and children from Japan and all over the world send thousands of cranes each year to her statue in an effort to support World Peace.  Sadako’s story is told in the award winning children’s book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr and also in the play that Lafayette College performed, A Thousand Cranes, by Kathryn Schultz Miller.

6. How do I learn to fold a crane?

There are many, many websites that offer detailed instructions on folding origami cranes.  A Google search of “how to fold an origami crane” will turn up hundreds of instruction sheets.  There are also youtube videos that take you step by step through crane folding.

7. Do I need to use origami paper?

Real origami paper is helpful because it is white on one side and a color on the other, which helps to know which way to fold the paper.  Basic origami paper is fine to use – while there is beautiful, more decorative paper, because the cranes are assembled in groups of 1000, even solid color paper looks beautiful.

8. Where do I get origami paper?

You can find origami paper at any craft store in smaller quantities of around 40 sheets to a pack.  If you wish to fold larger qualities, better deals are to be found in bulk on the internet.  One of the best places to order in bulk online is California Paper Company.

9. Does it matter what size my cranes are?

Any size cranes folded using from 3” to 8” origami paper work well for our purposes of creating crane mobiles.

10. What happens to my cranes once I send them in?

Once we receive the cranes and have 1000 ready to be strung together, we string them into rows of 50, and then attach 20 strings to a wreath base, placed horizontally, to create a mobile of 1000 which can be hung from the ceiling.  Cranes will then be installed in pediatric cancer centers.

11. Where do I send my cranes?

Currently, cranes can be sent to David’s family at the following address: 130 W. Lafayette Street; Easton, PA 18042

12. My cranes aren’t perfect – should I still send them in?

Of course – origami crane folding gets easier with practice, but we welcome all attempts to help in the project.

13. Can I donate money to help with the project?

The National Crane Project does not solicit or accept donations, but is supportive of all efforts to eradicate children cancers.  The Heard family is actively involved with The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds research to find cures for childhood cancers.  David’s mother Susan will be one of St. Baldrick’s 46 Mommas for 2011.

14. I’m a theatre professional or college theater professor and I’d like to be a part of the National Crane Project by having my school perform the play.  What now?

The National Crane Theater Project is launching in late Dec. 2010.  More information will be posted here as it is available.

15. Who do I contact if I have additional questions that weren’t answered here?

You may contact Lafayette College Professor Mary Jo Lodge at lodgem@lafayette.edu or 610-330-5662.