Students’ Butterflies to Visit Nation’s Capitol

Courtesy photos    Kaia Marbin, right, and Lily Ellis helped draw national attention to the plight of children in detention centers with their “Butterfly Effect” project.

Alamedan’s project addresses issues at Mexico border

Late last year, 11-year-old Kaia Marbin from Wood Middle School and her friend, 10-year-old Lily Ellis from Berkeley, wanted to let the country know that the 15,000 children the federal government was holding in detention centers were loved and supported. To accomplish this they created “The Butterfly Effect.” The program aimed to create and publicly display 15,000 handmade origami butterflies. Each butterfly would represent one child the government had separated from his or her family.

“Imagine you’re 5 years old and you’re leaving all your friends and all your family behind to go to a new place with new people who don’t speak the same language as you, and whom you don’t even know,” Marbin and Ellis wrote in a blogpost they submitted to NC State Extension. “How would you feel?” they asked. “Scared, lonely, or maybe even confused?” 

The young students started creating their butterflies and invited others to join in. “The Butterfly Effect: Migration,” is an art project that shows migration as a thing of beauty, not something to be ashamed of — and certainly not something children should be held in detention centers for. Marbin and Ellis said they chose butterflies because “these creatures symbolize migration and are each is different and beautiful in its own way, just like people.”

To accomplish their goal,  Marbin and Ellis teamed up with, the Alphabet Rockers, Amnesty International, Destiny Arts Center, The Center for Cultural Power and Tsuru for Solidarity and others. 

The Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) recently announced that the students not only reached their goal, but came close to doubling it. With help from a lot of friends, they created 25,000 butterflies. AUSD also announced that 15,000 of these butterflies will be displayed at the Russell Senate Building Rotunda in Washington, D.C. on the Universal Day of the Child, Wednesday, Nov. 20.

“After setting up the display, student organizers will have a chance to meet members of Congress and give out butterflies to raise awareness of migrant children in detention,” the school district stated. 

The Alameda Sun joins AUSD in congratulating Marbin and Ellis for helping to inspire and educate people around the world about these children in detainment centers.

The butterfly wheel graces Wood Middle School, where Marbin attends classes, before heading to the Capitol Building by Nov. 20.