Using origami and a children’s novel, inmates at Ketchikan Correctional Center have inspired themselves and others by creating thousands of cranes.
No not the real birds, but 3,000 of the paper kind that is part of an annual program where more than 40 inmates compete in May and June to see which ward can make 1,000 of them first.
The origami cranes are then presented to three local organizations who use them to help their clients experience peace and to deal with life issues.
KCC Superintendent Jessica Mathews says the cranes which are made out of donated magazines are also helping the inmates who get to see that they are making a difference in their community.
Mathews calls the process therapeutic because what you do to one side, you do the other.
This year the nonprofit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep who helps with bereavement with families who experience baby deaths, Post 3 of the American Legion who works with elderly and disabled veterans, and the female empowerment group, Girls on the Run all accepted the cranes from participants.
The Ketchikan Pioneer Home, Peace Health Ketchikan Medical Center, Women in Safe Homes, and the families and friends of Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Scott Johnson and Trooper Gabe Rich, who were killed in 2014 in Tanana all, have received cranes in the past three years.
The program is inspired by the character of Sadako Sasaki who is featured in the children’s novel “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr. Sadako is a two-year-old girl who survives the 1945 atomic bomb attack on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. As a 12-year-old, Sadako learns she has leukemia as a result of the radiation and is given months to live. While hospitalized, Sadako is inspired by a Japanese legend to make 1,000 paper cranes in order to be granted a wish — the wish for peace and life, according to Mathews.
And with inmates using phrases like having balance, being humble, and doing something good for someone else, it looks like the cranes is creating peace inside and out KCC.
Awesome job Ketchikan Correctional Center! We appreciate you!
Photos courtesy of Taylor Balkom, Ketchikan Daily News.