When Star Post High School student Tenaya was assigned to create a project around an issue of social justice, she knew right away that she wanted to explore hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community because of her own Japanese heritage and an interest in Japanese interment during WWII. On a visit to Japantown, a display of origami hearts in the window of a shop called The Paper Tree caught her eye. Tenaya learned that in Japan, it is a tradition to fold 1,000 paper cranes to make a wish. In light of the recent hate crimes against the AAPI community, the shop owner, Linda Mihara, reached out through social media asking people to fold and send her 1,000 paper hearts for a display to spread a message of love. In response, she received thousands of paper hearts from all over the country. Linda is now encouraging others to create their own origami heart displays. [Watch a local news story about her efforts here https://www.ktvu.com/video/920085]
Inspired by The Paper Tree effort, Tenaya came back to Star and suggested the Post High School class fold paper hearts in honor of AAPI Month in May. Once they got started, the OT department expanded the project to the rest of the school and more than 200 hearts were folded by students in all grades. High school students even incorporated messages of love and hope on their hearts.
Tenaya continued the effort by contributing 250 of her own hearts to The Paper Tree’s temporary installation at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
This student-inspired project encompassed important lessons of acceptance and compassion, as well as giving students the chance to practice fine motor and executive functioning skills.
Star Academy students’ hearts are now on display in the school lobby as a demonstration of our school’s commitment to these important social justice ideals.