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Message D-------------- Feedback from an Origami Master - Road to recovery

 I was in the Changi General Hospital high-dependency ward - my home for the next 40 days. The left half of my body, which was my dominant side, had been paralysed by an acute stroke.

…….I was bored and tormented by negative thoughts as I tried coming to terms with the loss of the use of my dominant limbs. I was looking at the loss of my independence and not being able to continue with most of the activities in life that matter to me, including origami, which had been a passion and part of me for the better part of 45 years.

 To relieve the grinding boredom, I took a sheet of paper and began playing with it. It was strange and cumbersome folding only with my non-dominant hand. …...I stopped feeling sorry for myself, be positive and get to work on recovery. All is not lost.

I tried folding some of the simpler designs from memory. …………….

The knowledge that substantial recovery was possible by engaging in an activity I love gave me hope. I had a clear objective. I was determined to do everything I could to be able to pursue origami again at my former level, and to recover as much of my physical faculties as humanly possible. I went through each supervised physiotherapy session enthusiastically, and repeated as many of the exercises as I could while lying in bed. I also folded and handed out so many origami butterflies that they soon came to symbolise my desire to be free from the restrictive effects of the stroke.……..

I was still wheelchair bound when I was discharged from the hospital and referred to the rehabilitation centre at another hospital ........

The physiotherapists at the rehabilitation center had learned of my passion for origami by then. I also found myself used increasingly as a role model for my fellow patients. Many of these patients had become withdrawn, inhibited, and disillusioned with life and the possibilities of ever making an eventual recovery. I was often asked to speak with them, to encourage them, and used as an example of the positive effects and possibilities of recovery with supervised physiotherapy.


Some months later, I was invited to teach the therapists and patients to fold butterflies to be used as door gifts for events at World Physiotherapists Day. I ended up folding most of the butterflies for them as well as a second lot for the World Occupational Therapists Day at Hospital (CGH).    About a year after my discharge from CGH, I was hugely surprised to learn that I had been named - " the Most Inspiring Patient of the Year "  by the hospital.

……….. I was out of the wheelchair after several months and was walking without assistance or use of the walking stick after a year. ………..

 Apart from inadequate use of my left hand and a gimpy gait, I am able to live my life almost as independently as before. The stroke may have been a traumatic experience, but it has given me a new dimension in the use of origami and in life. The experience and origami have enabled me to reach out to others in a similar situation, bring them a little joy, and – more importantly – hope.

For full version of the story please visit:



R Koh         January 2014         Singapore 


Message C -------------- Feedback from a retired teacher

I am a retired preschool teacher from Victoria.   I have been teaching origami for over ten yearsAs a volunteer, I share the joy of origami with local brain injury, stroke, seniors, women and church groups; relapse prevention groups (addiction issues) and residents of mental health facilities.   Four years ago I started teaching origami at the psychiatric unit of K B Hospital.  I wanted to share the joy.  Origami is a gentle art form which exercises the mind and delights the soul.

The weekly origami is one and a half hour session with up to six patients. The activity coordinator is always present and  supportive.  We understand that the hardest part of our work is  the gathering of patients to join in, as they are often in a state of mind where initiative and decision-making are paralysed.  However, once they arrived and the sheet of paper is in front of them . . . the magic begins.

When they asked - 'Why do you come?'  ..........   I replied -'I know origami will help. '

It helps patients by sharing my own coping experience with origami.  They feel more at ease and this helps establishing trust. I usually verbalise the foldings step-by-step along with demonstrations.  Some patients are so keen that they want to learn as much as five models in one session.  I greatly admire their courage to participate  because some still on sedation.  Origami works both the left and right brain. At times I can see them struggling between the sedative effect  and the folding stimulation. Origami usually wins the battle.  Origami provides both distraction and focus.  This is a wonderful success for first-time folders:  The patients’ sense of joy, mastery and relief from chaotic thinking or despair is clearly visible. The body language is  different when they leave the session. Their heads held higher as they gather the beautiful origami they made. For a brief period of time, origami has rescued them from the aimless wandering on the ward and given them a purpose.

The origami class is also a non-threatening social setting. There is no pressure to talk or socialise. Yet I have observed changes on those who were not socially confident.  They began to engage with others or in helping others with certain steps. Patients encouraged each other. Sometimes they interacted  through animating action models. Often, conversations continued after the session is over.

What is good for the student is good for the teacher - Eight years ago I was unwell. When I was really anxious, doing origami calmed me down. As I began to fold the paper, my ruminating negative thoughts were replaced with focused attention. A sense of accomplishment followed once the model was completed. Besides, giving a model or teaching someone was a joyful experience.

Teaching origami gives me purpose. The benefits of doing origami are somehow doubled through sharing the art form.  Patients  often  express the sincere appreciation for receiving the opportunity- to fold. This has been the most rewarding of all my origami teaching experiences. It is very gratifying to witness their improvement while we fold. I feel pride and accomplishment in helping people by easing their emotional pain, if only for a little while.

I have seen a patient suffering from schizophrenia with paranoid delusions, successfully complete the models, join in conversation and leave with a smile.      

 Oh, the magic of origami!

 R. Browne              October 2012           Canada   

Message B
-------------- Feedback from a Clinical Social Worker

I am a clinical social worker in Ontario, Canada. I have a counseling practice, and many people come to my office for a multitude of problems. Some of those people are children who have anger management and/or histories of abuse. To help them formulate an understanding of counseling and the process of changing behaviors; I begin by teaching them origami folds. We begin with easier folds and graduate to more difficult ones. It depends on the progresses or resists of change and/or learning to tell her/his stories.

But always, after making an origami fox, or purse, or tower (to be used as a scale technique), or bird, I tell them, "...if you can make this ~ you can learn to change or tell me about what happened...". I believe that the instruction of origami during each session offers a quick integration between cognition and experience, hence, offering a concrete lesson on 'new' learning. Most children do change and/or tell their stories and come to resolution.

I have been folding for many years, yet it is only in the past few years that I begun to use origami in my work with children. Stories about using origami with adults are exciting and reason to celebrate! It is a wonderful art form. I remember it fondly from my days as a child when living in Japan. I look forward to spending more time on your website. I first found out about you in an Origami Calendar and looking forward to have more origami ideas!

Happy New year!!

J. Wiley               12 Jan 2005             Canada

Message A ------------- Feedback from a Criminal Defense Attorney

I thought you might be interested in a story about the wonders of origami. My work often involved with abused children.

While I was a criminal defense attorney in Chicago I worked in the child welfare section. One of my clients was an abused child incapable of discussing her traumatic experience. Many professionals spent hours with her to get her talk but she would not. I tried her with origami. I had brought my briefcase and told her that all my important paper were in there, but I would allow her to go through them.

Inside I had many of my designs. I then told her that they were for her. I cannot explain the look of wonderment on her face. She opened up to me and we struck a pact - if she could work at therapy, then I would bring her more pieces.

It was remarkable how much the children enjoyed origami. I had one little boy telling me that, with origami, the court had changed from his least favorite place to something he looked forward to.

You have really struck a vein for me. I too share your belief in the therapeutic value of origami. It is a wonderful hobby and I thank you for your website. Sincerely,

K. Kulkarni .                25 Dec 2004        USA

George Ho - origami  1993 - 2014 C