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Keeping the Peace

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A group of New Mexico students is hoping to make a monumental contribution to world peace.

In 1989, a class of 3rd and 4th graders at Arroyo del Oso Elementary School in Albuquerque, N.M., discussed "1,000 Cranes,'' the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who died of radiation sickness after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima by the United States in 1945. When they learned how Japanese children had collected money to create a children's peace monument in Hiroshima, they were inspired to do the same.

With the help of adult sponsors, the Arroyo students formed the Kids' Committee to solicit funds for the monument. Over the past three years, the group has received $6,000 from children nationwide, and 11,000 names to add to a peace petition to be read during the dedication of the monument, which the organizers hoped would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing on Aug. 6, 1995.

The Kid's Committee thought Los Alamos, N.M., home to the federal laboratory that was the birthplace of the atomic bomb, would be an appropriate location for the monument. Last month, Arroyo students and teachers presented their idea to the Los Alamos city council, which approved the proposal with the condition that the dedication take place on the anniversary of Japan's surrender on Sept. 2 rather than that of the bombing of Hiroshima.

The Kids' Committee, which hopes to raise $1 million for the project and include as many children's names as possible in the peace petition, is also sponsoring a contest to design the monument. For guidelines on the contest, open to those age 18 and under, write the Kids' Committee, Children's Peace Statue, P.O. Box 12888, Albuquerque, N.M. 87195. ws--S.K.G.

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