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Creating paper cranes as a symbol of hope and peace

Jennifer Shouldice and her children Emmet, Breea and Scarlett are making paper cranes as a symbol of hope. [Damon MacLean]

Jennifer Shouldice is known for her community involvement running the Homeschool Kids Unite! – an online  group where homeschool kids can engage with others. Now she’s taken up the art of origami as her next mission.

Jennifer Shouldice and her children Emmet, Breea and Scarlett are making paper cranes as a symbol of hope. [Damon MacLean]

When Shouldice was in the fifth grade attending John Mahood PS in Elmira, one assignment that impacted her was around Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Her class read the book, which centers around a girl diagnosed with leukemia after the Hiroshima bombing. 

“I’m homeschooling this year, and I read the novel with my kids for a novel study. In the novel, the characters make paper cranes that, for the Japanese, are symbols of hope and peace. The main character in the story, she has cancer and so their family and her friends rally around her and make paper cranes. Unfortunately, she does not live. It’s a historical fiction novel, but still the whole point of the story is how can we bring about a sign of hope and peace to hurting people? So then the idea came that I wanted to teach my kids how to make paper cranes – I learned to make them when I was in Grade 5,” Shouldice explained.

Now with her son also in the fifth grade, she wanted to hand down some of her memories, which included making paper cranes that hung across the classroom. Instead of pinning the stringed-cranes on a classroom ceiling, the Shouldice residence has some visible from the front window. 

As of last weekend, there were 525 cranes. Shouldice and her children spend time on their breaks in the day creating the cranes and are aiming to reach 1,000 by the end of the school year. 

Rather than taking on the initiative independently, Shouldice is looking for others in the community to search for a tutorial and join in on the paper folding to help reach the goal. One friend of Shouldice, for instance, is responsible for making 200 of the 525.

In addition, to finding inspiration through the story, Shouldice also found a message while searching how to create her own cranes. She clicked on a video by Green Renaissance, which shared the following traditional Kyoto poem:

   ‘When you have a sad memory, it’s a scar that remains in your heart. And it’s the same like paper, once you create it, it remains it never goes away. But you can use that line to make another shape. So, in a way, it’s necessary to have that line. Paper is a metaphor for life, you only have one piece of paper, you only have one life so you can make use of what lines and points there are, if you can create something out of what you have, we all have infinite potential.’

“That kind of just sparked this idea that one of us wants to make paper cranes, and let’s have it be a symbol of hope and peace and kind of a pandemic project because we’re still living in this pandemic, and are locked down. And the whole world making these colorful cranes is like a symbol of  hope and peace and, and it’s something to look forward to inside,” said Shouldice.

To help add to the string of paper cranes, contact Shouldice via email at jennifer.shouldice@gmail.com

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