August 24, 2017

Volunteer with the Hope Crane Project

Cranes offer psychiatric patients a symbol of hope during their stay

The Hope Crane Project began at the University of Michigan hospital in 2013 as a way to comfort patients admitted to the adult psychiatric inpatient unit. Each new patient receives an origami box and crane accompanied with a note explaining that the crane represents a symbol of hope during the person’s hospital stay and beyond.

The project was developed by Stephanie Heit, a former patient who received a purple origami crane from her roommate. When she was given the crane, she was told about the traditional legend that says if you make a thousand cranes in a year (The Legend of 1000 Cranes), you can manifest a wish, often around health and healing.

“I have had family members experience inpatient hospital stays and know how difficult they can be, so I enjoy using my personal experiences to help people who are struggling. The project has such power of positivity, and I feel like these small but meaningful gifts of cranes really make an impact on the patients,” said Lise Levie, co-chair of the Patient & Family Centered Care Committee Psychiatry committee.

The origami, handmade by volunteers, are offered as a gift from the Department of Psychiatry and PFCC. PFCC’s mission is to promote, cultivate and celebrate health care, guided by patients and families. The Hope Crane Project helps to illuminate this mission by the creation and gifting of these origami symbols of hope.

A crucial part of the Hope Crane Project is having volunteers help create the cranes and boxes. Without the volunteers, the project would cease to exist. Anyone can volunteer: community members, high school students, patients and their loved ones; as well as staff, who are urged to participate in the project. These volunteers can help show their support while also feeling the benefits of “paying it forward.”

The cranes and boxes are enjoyable and easy to make after the initial learning curve. You can watch a video or follow the step by step instructions provided. With practice, folding them becomes meditative with a therapeutic aspect to folding paper and “paying it forward.” 

If you are interested in volunteering with the Hope Crane Project, it’s important to follow the guidelines provided to ensure that all the cranes and boxes are uniform. If you have a large group or a committee working on the project, workshops, along with materials, can be requested. However, these workshops are not necessary to volunteer. Volunteers can hold their own groups without requesting a workshop as long as the required guidelines are followed.

If your organization would like to participate in the Hope Crane Project, email deniseg@umich.edu.

Learn more:

How to Fold the Box Top.

How to Fold the Box Bottom.