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Pedaling towards Peace with 1,000 Paper Cranes

By Jason Underwood
Pedaling towards Peace with 1,000 Paper Cranes

Students from Hiroshima International School promote peace through epic cycling trip
Students from Hiroshima International School are taking action in the 70th anniversary year of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The group aims to promote peace by cycling nearly 500 km, from Hiroshima Peace Park to Nagasaki Peace Memorial Hall. They will present 1,000 paper cranes to Nagasaki Peace Memorial Hall as a symbolic gesture.
The cyclists will depart from Hiroshima Peace Park on 8 October, cycle for six days, present the cranes in Nagasaki on 14 October, and return to Hiroshima the following day.
The significance of 1,000 paper cranes originates from the story of Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old at the time of the atomic bombings and survived the blast in Hiroshima. She later suffered from leukaemia and died in 1955 at age 12. While in the hospital, Sadako heard of a Japanese legend that promised a wish to anyone who folded 1,000 paper cranes. Sadako began the task and so inspired others to do the same. Her story was popularised in the book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coer.
Interestingly, Sadako’s biggest challenge was finding paper, not time, to fold the cranes. In today’s busy world the situation is reversed: paper is in abundance, time is scarce.
Cycling was chosen as the mode of delivery because it is physically challenging, requires commitment to training as well as determination, and is a sustainable form of transport. The supervising teacher for the ride, Jason Underwood, said, “None of the students have cycled very much, if at all, so this is a significant challenge for them.”
The ride, known as the “Peace Ride,” has involved the wider community with fundraising efforts and donations. Most significantly, the school received a donation of three bicycles from a local resident. The “1000 Paper Crane Club,” run by the students of Hiroshima International School, has been working hard to prepare the cranes for Nagasaki Peace Memorial Hall. Every year, the club folds, collects, and displays paper cranes at Hiroshima Peace Park’s Children’s Memorial and conducts guided tours of the park in multiple languages for school students visiting Hiroshima.
The Principal of Hiroshima International School stated, “There is so much about this initiative that epitomizes what international education is about: connecting with our local community, taking on challenges, and promoting greater understanding between communities. This is an activity these students will never forget.”
Hiroshima International School receives thousands of paper cranes per year from schools studying Sadako Sasaki’s story. If you or your school would like to contribute by sending paper cranes, the students at Hiroshima International School would love to receive them.
Thousand Paper Crane Club
Hiroshima International School
3-49-1 Kurakake, Asakita- ku
Hiroshima 739-1743, Japan

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