Tasmanian paper planes flying in for overdose awareness initiative

When Cornerstone Youth Services started working remotely in response to COVID-19, staff were looking for ways to stay connected.

Since then they’ve created close to 700 paper cranes in an effort to raise awareness of the risks of overdose.

GOOD CAUSE: Cornerstone Youth Services clinicians Isha Verma, Liam Spicer and Danielle Jackson with their paper crane creations, ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day 2020. Picture: Paul Scambler

An initiative of Tasmania’s Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council, chief executive Alison Lai said the response to this year’s call-out was once again exceeding expectations.

“In 2019 we asked the Tasmanian community to fold 1000 origami cranes, and were inundated with 4239 cranes”, she said.

“This year because of COVID-19 we are doing things a bit differently, and rather than asking people to send their cranes into us, we’ve been asking them to send us a photo of each crane that they’ve folded, which will become part of a larger digital artwork that we will launch to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day 2020 at the end of this month.”

The Launceston Cornerstone team are aiming to make 1000 paper planes.

Operations manager Alison Roberts said the decision to take part was two-fold.

“It was about keeping our staff feeling like they were apart of something bigger, but also raising awareness of overdose and the issues and impacts it has,” she said.

“It’s a nice challenge and it’s a way to contribute to something bigger, while keeping staff engaged.”

While the concept of folding cranes has captured the imagination of many, Ms Lai said the reason behind the initiative was a very important one.

“Being overdose aware is an important message that we need to get out into the community, particularly during COVID-19 where people may be less willing to leave the house to visit their doctor, they may be stockpiling medications and experiencing increased levels of stress or anxiety at this time,” she said.

“Talking about drug use… can be challenging due to the stigma surrounding it. But it’s a very important one to have to reduce the risk of overdose, and folding a crane is a gentle way to start that conversation.”