Paper cranes draw attention to brain injuries

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HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) — Walking into the Diorama Hall at Hastings Museum, it won't be the mounted animals or the tail of the prehistoric dinosaur that catches the eye this month.

Instead it will be the 36,000 brightly colored paper cranes hanging from the museum's light well. The cranes were installed Tuesday and are on display through May 5 in association with Brain Injury Awareness Month, held every March.

"Our goal was to get 36,000 because that would be one for each person in Nebraska living with a disability from a brain injury," said Jacquie Cox, president of the board for the Brain Injury Association of Nebraska.

The paper cranes were folded by people from across the state at the request of the state organization.

"It seemed like a huge goal, but we were very pleasantly surprised," Cox said. "We even surpassed it."

On Tuesday, clients with Goodwill Industries in Hastings helped the museum staff put hooks on each strand of cranes that had been threaded on strings and hang them in the light well. Marcie Huebert said she was excited to help and couldn't wait to learn to fold paper cranes on her own.

"They're awesome," she said. "I'm going to try it today."

The hundreds of strands of cranes were laid out on the floor in the museum's East Gallery, literally filling the entire room with the brightly colored cranes made from both solid colored and patterned paper. Some were even made using magazine pages.

Theresa Kreutzer-Hodson, curator of collections at the museum, said she was thrilled to have a display like this in the museum even though it's not the typical historical exhibit.

"Doing things like this creates awareness, and that's something we need to do," she said.

Kreutzer-Hodson said she was amazed by the impact of the exhibit even before the cranes were hung.

"One thing I'm marveling at right now is, until I saw these all laid out on the floor, I had no idea the impact it had," she said. "Just laying on the floor it's like, 'Wow, that is a lot of cranes,' and each one represents one person in Nebraska."

Cox said the point of the exhibit is simply to create awareness about brain injuries and remind Nebraskans that a lot of people in the state suffer from the effects of brain injuries. Cox said the injuries can come from any force after birth, including a stroke, an illness like meningitis, an accident, injury from a vehicle collision or active war incident.

For more information on the Brain Injury Association of Nebraska, visit www.biane.org or call 800-444-6443.

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Information from: Hastings Tribune, http://www.hastingstribune.com

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