Utah Department of Corrections

2017 11 Paper crane

Inmate students at the Utah State Prison carefully folded 1,000 origami paper cranes, which will soon be on their way to decorate a display at Seattle’s Peace Park. 

As part of an English class at the Utah State Prison’s Promontory Facility, teacher Leah Sharitt had her class read, “One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children's Peace Statue.” The book tells the story of Sadako Sasaki, who lived in Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing by the United States. Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia at age 12 and was given a year to live. After being diagnosed, she was inspired by a Japanese legend that a person who created a thousand origami cranes would be granted a wish. She began to fold a thousand paper cranes, with her wish being that she simply wanted to live. Using the story as inspiration, Sharitt encouraged the inmates to fold 1,000 paper cranes.

“I thought that the values and ideas in the story directly connected to the inmates,” said Sharitt. “In class we continually work on putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, so what a better way than with a young girl who has leukemia and is folding a thousand cranes to save her life.”

2017 11 Paper crane 1

The students wrote a wish they wanted to come true on the wing of each crane they folded. One inmate wished for his mother to be free from cancer, another wrote that he wishes his child will be able to get to know him, while another simply stated that he wants to be addiction free. 

 “These real-world connections are what education is all about,” said Sharitt.  “I am proud of the students for following through with the project, but I am even more proud for the emotional growth each has gained.”

Sharitt believes that when the inmates can connect their lives to something else and bridge the gap through education and therapy it heals and provides growth. This project was not only therapeutic but helped instill hope within the inmates.

The paper cranes will be going to the Peace Park in Seattle, WA where they will be displayed at a festival next spring on a statue of Sadako along with thousands of other cranes sent from all over the world. 

 Check out our YouTube Channel to get more information on the event 


- Public Information Office, November 7, 2017