Commonwealth Honors College students fold paper cranes for breast cancer awareness

By Melanie Muller

On Thursday, dozens of students gathered to fold, bend and create multicolored origami paper cranes to promote awareness about breast cancer. The event, which was organized by the Student Advisory Board, was held in 504 Goodell Hall.

The Student Advisory Board is an organization made up of Commonwealth Honors College students with the mission of advising Commonwealth College Dean Priscilla M. Clarkson on certain matters, developing community within the honors college, and strengthening connections with the rest of the University. 

The board first initiated the crane-making effort last year, when 1000 cranes were folded and hung in the Honors College lounge and the Whitmore Administration Building. The goal this year was to produce 200 cranes to replace some of last year’s in time to hang them up again this October.

Organizers were inspired by the ancient Japanese legend that, if a person folds 1000 paper cranes, that person will be granted a wish, such as to be cured of an illness. The cranes will be hung in strings of eight each, and the last crane on each string will be colored pink to symbolize the one out of every eight women who will contract breast cancer in her lifetime. Volunteers encouraged members of the University of Massachusetts community to come see the cranes once they are displayed in October.

Approximately 40 students participated Thursday, which, according to organizers, is about the same turnout as last year’s event.  The students folded, socialized and consumed pizza provided for the occasion for about an hour and a half. Three volunteers from the Student Advisory Board, including SAB President Dan Burke, were on hand to help students learn how to fold the cranes and to collect them at the end.   

Group members expressed a need to hold the crane-making event multiple times in order to keep breast cancer awareness as a forefront issue in people’s minds. 

“Every UMass student at some point in their life is affected by breast cancer,” said Burke. “So we’re trying to reach out to everybody.”

Participants learned about the event from an email sent to Commonwealth College students and through a past “Pizza and Prof Night” with Clarkson, who encouraged students to participate. Some students in attendance had been personally affected by the disease. 

One student said that several members of her family had developed breast cancer, but that she hadn’t had a chance to do anything to promote awareness of it before. Another factor that influenced her to participate was a crane-folding effort in her hometown to support a man who fell off his roof and was seriously injured. She considered this to have had a very positive impact on the community.

A formal count of the cranes folded had not been made as of Thursday night, but it seemed that the Student Advisory Board was well on its way to amassing the 200 cranes needed.

Those unable to attend Thursday’s event who would still like to aid in the effort can drop paper cranes off at the Commonwealth Honors College office in 504 Goodell Hall..

Melanie Muller can be reached at [email protected]