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Norwalk Teens Surprised by Visit With Gov. Malloy

NORWALK, Conn. – An effort to bring attention to child abuse led 10 Brien McMahon High School students to "the surprise of their lives" Wednesday when they were invited into Connecticut's statehouse, according to their adviser.

The students in the high school's Center for Youth Leadership went to Hartford from Norwalk to plant nearly 2,000 origami cranes on the lawn of the Capitol in honor of Fairfield County victims of child abuse, Bob Kocienda said in a statement.

"The members got the surprise of their lives when state Sen. Bob Duff's staff told them that he wanted to acknowledge their work on the floor of the Senate," he said. "That was followed in quick succession by state Rep. Larry Cafero's offer to introduce them on the floor of the House, and a meeting with Governor [Dannel] Malloy that was arranged by Sen. Duff."

"That was so exciting," student Millie Cunningham said in a statement.

"All we wanted to do was tell people about child abuse, and we wind up meeting so many important people. It was great of Sen. Duff to get us a meeting with the governor. Both of them were so nice and so supportive of our work," student Emily Todd said in the statement.

"These young women are the future leaders and problem-solvers of our country," Duff said in a statement. "I am so proud of these students for their hard work in raising awareness about a real problem affecting our society – child abuse. Over the years, the Center for Youth Leadership has actively sought solutions to solve problems, such as hunger and domestic violence. They serve as true models for their peers as youth activists who demonstrate what it takes to make a difference in their community."

The kids left Norwalk at 5 a.m. in cars stuffed with pillows, blankets and 1,864 origami cranes. "In the past," Emily said, "we've planted 9,000 brown paper lunch bags on the Capitol lawn and placed hundreds of stuffed animals on the lawn. But today we planted 1,864 origami cranes - one for each child who was abused last year in Fairfield County."

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