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Paper Cranes for Japan

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image The Journey of 2 Million Cranes

In response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan the Paper Cranes for Japan campaign inspired young people worldwide to support their Japanese peers.

SEATTLE, March 7, 2012 -- Immediately following March 2011's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, DoSomething.org and Students Rebuild took action. The campaign Paper Cranes for Japan challenged young people worldwide: make and mail-in a paper crane with a wish of hope and healing, and trigger funding for Japan's recovery. The goal was 100,000 cranes; the result was 2 million cranes and $500,000 in donations for rebuilding projects in the Tohoku region.

This 4-minute film tells the story of Paper Cranes for Japan with never-before-seen footage—including the unveiling of a massive sculpture in Sendai Train Station using 100,000 of the cranes—and how it inspired a global movement that mobilized thousands of young people in 38 countries and all fifty states to support their Japanese peers.

One year on, Paper Cranes for Japan reflects on the moments that created a worldwide movement:

  • March 12, 2011 – DoSomething.org launches "Paper Cranes for Japan" with an online call to action: fold a crane and post a photo with a wish of support.
  • March 21 – Students Rebuild partners with DoSomething.org to amplify the call to action: Cranes sent by mail trigger matching funds for recovery and reconstruction from the Bezos Family Foundation. The goal is 100,000 cranes, to be woven into an art installation in Sendai. 
  • March 31 – Students in Haiti, survivors of the January 2010 earthquake, fold cranes for their peers in Japan during the opening ceremony of a school rebuilt by Students Rebuild.
  • April 13 – Paper cranes arrive from Mississippi; all 50 states participating.
  • April 18 – Crane count exceeds 500,000; Bezos Family Foundation doubles its gift to $400,000.
  • April 26 – Students Rebuild volunteers count the one millionth paper crane and an anonymous donor gives another $100,000; by May, the crane count exceeds two million.
  • July 13 – Artist Vik Muniz donates his imagination and ingenuity to create a massive visual piece, which he photographs for a benefit poster to further reconstruction.
  • November 9 – Architecture for Humanity announces winners for "Build Back Better Tohoku" and rebuilding projects are underway.
  • December 5 – 100,000 cranes are shipped to the Tohoku University of Art and Design (TUAD), which releases the conceptual design for the massive crane sculpture.
  • January 13, 2012 – 1,500 Japanese students from area elementary schools attend the opening ceremony of "Gift by Gift for a Better World," which unveils the 100,000 crane sculpture and kicks off a three-day public event at Sendai Train Station.
  • March, 2012 – Funds are now supporting community-driven projects in small towns and fishing villages along the Tohoku coast with the least access to resources and government assistance.


Architecture for Humanity has been building relationships with communities to assess needs and direct resources where they're most needed through its Tohoku Rebuilding Program. Projects underway include the expansion of Kashiwagi Daycare Center, which has strained to manage the influx of kids from other areas damaged by the quake, and critical repairs to the Shizugawa Judo Juku structure, much of which was washed away.

"By working with small communities, we can talk directly with leaders and ask them to identify needs in their community," says Hiromi Tabei, program coordinator for Architecture for Humanity's Tohoku Rebuilding Program. "Our approach to reconstruction and recovery isn't just about building schools or community centers, but also about inspiring a renewed sense of community and belonging."


In response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11th, Students Rebuild partnered with DoSomething.org's "Paper Cranes for Japan" campaign to inspire young people worldwide to support their Japanese peers. Together, we issued a simple challenge to kids online: Make and mail a paper crane, and trigger funding for recovery and reconstruction from the Bezos Family Foundation. The goal: 100,000 cranes, which would generate $200,000 to fund Architecture for Humanity's Tohoku reconstruction efforts. The response: An astounding 2 million cranes from young people in 38 countries and all 50 U.S. states, inspiring a total of $500,000 for recovery and rebuilding in Japan.


Video is available to embed for any online anniversary coverage.

Students Rebuild Paper Cranes for Japan website: http://studentsrebuild.org/japan

Architecture for Humanity's Tohoku Rebuilding Program: http://architectureforhumanity.org/programs/tohoku-earthquake-and-tsunami-rebuilding

Paper Cranes for Japan Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/papercranesforjapan

Twitter: @studentsrebuild

Welling Savo Justin, Students Rebuild & the Bezos Family Foundation, (+1) 206-275-2048 x113 or welling@bezosfamilyfoundation.org

SOURCE Students Rebuild


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