Hannah Kootz is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in Warwick, Massachusetts. This area, knows as the North Quabbin, has one of the highest assault rates for any place of comparable size in the state. Hannah is deeply concerned about violence and prejudice, which is what brought her to join Talking on the Edge, a program under the care of Quabbin Mediation. In this program, teens learn conflict resolution skills. They identify behaviors that escalate and those which de-escalate conflict. Then they create workshops to teach these skills to others. Workshops have been presented to adults, teens, and elementary school children.
Hannah has been a member of Talking on the Edge for three years. Not only has she taken a leadership role, she has been an active recruiter, and has created many activities to include in the workshops.
Committed to peace, Hannah was disappointed when the United States went to war in Iraq. She wanted to help the community express its desire for peace. Inspired by the book, Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes, she invited citizens in the surrounding towns to come to a Paper Crane Making Party. She read to them the story of the Japanese girl who was made ill by radiation from the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in the Second World War. It was this young child’s desire to create 1,000 paper cranes so that her wish to regain health would be granted, as the Japanese legend promised. Ever since the story has been known, people have created paper cranes as symbols of peace.
More than 40 children, adults, and seniors came to Hannah’s Paper Crane Making Party. A woman from Japan was a surprise guest. She presented the group with several hundred paper cranes made by the Japanese survivors. She also gave the group a garland made by American children. At the end of the party, 430 cranes had been made. Hannah reached her goal of 1,000 when boxes filled with paper cranes began arriving from neighboring towns. Finally, 1,000 paper cranes and a note expressing a wish for peace were sent to her Senator who saw that they were hand delivered to the White House. The beautiful Japanese cranes were not included in the box sent to Washington. Hannah wanted them saved to hang in the Quabbin Mediation office to remind people that conflict resolution and mediation are paths to peace.