Like a lot of first-graders, Greg Buniak is a “Lego master,” says his mom, Christina Duzyj Buniak, MD, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

First-grader hopes origami Will help patients turn a corner during COVID-19
Greg Buniak, 6, has made origami cranes, a symbol of healing when you are sick, to help COVID-19 patients.

But plastic bricks aren’t the only building medium for the 6-year-old. In recent months, Greg has “devoured books on the Japanese art of origami,” says Dr. Buniak. He’s taught himself the intricate paper folds, creating a display that has included dinosaurs, a swordfish, an origami bat for the tooth fairy—and most recently—the origami crane.

A Meaningful Creation

“Greg learned the origami crane offers hope in the Japanese culture,” says Dr. Buniak. “And he really wanted to share that with others during this difficult time.”

“Origami cranes are the symbol of healing when you’re sick,” says Greg. In a video posted to YouTube earlier this month—that Greg recorded and edited himself—he demonstrates a step-by-step process for folding an origami crane. He also expresses a desire for those in his Lexington elementary school to make the cranes “and give them to a man or woman who may be sick.”

And if you ascribe to Japanese lore, Greg is exactly in line with the paper tradition. According to Japanese legend, anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes will see their wishes come true.

Students and teachers from Greg’s school have reacted positively to his YouTube video, says Dr. Buniak. “They’ve shared it and sent pictures of origami they’ve made on their own.”

Something not covered in the instructional video: The best type of paper for your origami creations. Greg says any paper will do, but he prefers real origami paper sheets. “They’re colorful on one side and white on the other.”

“Greg is very earnest about sharing his love for origami with others,” says Dr. Buniak. “He also sees me come home from the hospital each night and wants to help in whatever way he can.” And if nothing more, she says, it’s a good opportunity for everyone to try something new while at home during the pandemic.