Kalani student stars in ‘Peace On Your Wings’

Mina Kohara, Profile

“Peace on Your Wings” is a play by the Ohana Arts at the Hawaii Theatre Center from Feb. 9 to 11. Based on a true story, the play follows the story of Sadako Sasaki in 1950s Japan, post World War II. It depicts the lives of middle school students in Hiroshima, specifically Sadako Sasaki, as she’s diagnosed with leukemia with only a year left to live. Sadako Sasaki and the students band together to fold 1,000 cranes, following the Japanese legend that one is granted a wish when 1,000 cranes are folded. 

Kalani student Jenelle Wong (11) plays the lead role of Sadako Sasaki.

“Sadako’s life and relentless optimism despite the many hardships she faced were so inspirational, and I feel honored to be given the opportunity to tell her story,” Wong says.

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Wong has been in theater since she was seven years old. Her first main stage in “A Christmas Story” at Diamond Head Theater has led her to continue doing theatre today. 

“My favorite part of ‘Peace on Your Wings’ is working with the amazingly talented and kindhearted cast and being able to share Sadako’s powerful message around the world and see the impact this musical has on people’s lives,” Wongs says. “When playing Sadako, it’s extremely humbling to see how many people were touched by the lyrics and songs of this show, and I have got to meet some incredible people who have direct connections with loved ones affected by the nuclear bombing on Hiroshima.”

Sasaki’s story has inspired a worldwide movement. Her determination to fold 1000 cranes led friends and classmates to raise money for a monument honoring child victims from the atomic bombings. 

Even today, people hang 1000 cranes at memorials in Hiroshima that share her story. The mission of “Peace on Your Wings” is to spread messages of peace. By educating audiences about the long-term effects of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, fans of the play hope to caution future generations about the dangers of nuclear warfare. 

“This musical delivers a beautiful, heartbreaking, powerful story and continues to inspire me each and every day to live life to the fullest,” Wong says. “It also educates younger generations on the horrors of war and conflict and how the effects of war affect the lives of so many innocent people who are struggling, even to this day. A line from the show that captures this perfectly is, ‘Let’s honor Sadako and so many more who lost their lives to someone else’s war.'”

“That scene is when Sadako is temporarily released from the hospital to go to Obon or the bon dance and it’s her last big event with her family and friends before her passing,” Jenelle Wong says.
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Alongside its depictions of darker themes, the play delivers a positive message about the impact of small actions. With every crane folded, there’s an opportunity for change. 

“One of the concepts Sadako constantly shared was ‘Ichigo Ichie,’ and this means one chance, one meeting, and serves as a reminder to appreciate each day and every moment you have,” Wong shares. 

Wong says one line in particular, “I love you should it be the last goodbye,” perfectly captures the overall message of the play.

“This resonated with me because I tend to get caught up in the stressors of life, but this simple yet powerful message has taught me to be grateful for every experience and cherish time with loved ones,” Wong says.