Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bob the Builder Award: 10 year old Donovan Parten and his origami cranes

Isn't this as adorable as it is inspiring?  :)
Kids create a flock of paper cranes to aid Japan
The Kansas City Star

Donovan Parten is a regular kid. Plays baseball and soccer. Reads books. Writes stories. But he’s also a fiend when it comes to paper folding.

Paper airplanes. Origami. Donovan can keep at it for hours.

Which explains why his mom showed him the email she received last month from the makers of OshKosh clothing.

The pitch: Fold paper cranes, as in the bird that the Japanese see as a symbol of health and well-being, and for every crane delivered to one of the company’s stores, the head office will donate an article of clothing to Japanese kids who lost everything in last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

A cynic might have dismissed it as so much spam. But Kelly Parten saw it as an opportunity for 10-year-old Donovan to expand on one of his other interests — philanthropy.

or a fourth-grader, Donovan has quite the social consciousness. And while he doesn’t have money of his own to hand out to charity, he’s rabid when it comes to collecting box tops and pull tabs and whatever else the PTA is gathering to buy books for the library.
Still, Donovan had the same question I had:

“He asked, ‘Why don’t they just send the clothes over?’ ” his mom said. “ ‘Why do they want us to make cranes?’ ”

Answer: Because kids often feel powerless. Making paper cranes, while only symbolic, is a way to teach them that they have it within themselves to make a difference.

So Donovan started folding cranes. Dozens of them, but he couldn’t make them fast enough.

“I’ve got to figure out a way to make more of them,” he told his mom.

So he asked the principal at Christa McAuliffe Elementary in Lenexa if he could teach the other kids how to fold cranes because it’s sort of tricky.

Pretty soon lots of boys and girls were making cranes during free time and after school.

“I was surprised how many people came up to me at recess and helped me make some,” Donovan said.

Most times it’s kids doing what adults tell them to do, grudgingly. For once, the grownups stayed out of it.

“It was his vision and his initiative,” principal Kent Peach told me.

Now, with only days until the Monday deadline, the kids at Donovan’s school have made 400 cranes in response to OshKosh’s promise to donate up to 50,000 items of clothing.

“He started it, but everybody knows he couldn’t have done it by himself,” Kelly Parten said.

It’s a reminder for adults and kids both.

Speaking of grownups, I had to laugh as Donovan, his mom and I sat around their kitchen table in Overland Park the other day. I’d asked him what his next challenge might be.

Donovan looked straight at me, as if we were two old guys sitting at the corner bar, and said, “Whatever life throws at me.”

Yep, Donovan, life throws us all a curve now and then. So when you can, pay it forward.