Living Dreams

Our organization exists to support kids living in Tokyo-area children's homes (orphanages) on their path towards becoming responsible, confident and empowered young adults. Centered along the "LAST" principle (Learning Arts, Sports, and Technology), long-term and regularly occurring programs are developed under each category to help improve a child's overall motivation and confidence. Ultimately each program and opportunity crafted for a children's home works to enrich, encourage and empower.
Feb 11, 2013

2nd year of thanks for a special holiday period!

Sledding is FUN!
Sledding is FUN!

This is the second consecutive year for several Tohoku children's homes to be able to participate in two special programs around the holiday period. The Christmas Wish Program and English Adventure Snow Camp took place during the months of December and early January--ending 2012 on a warm note and beginning 2013 with an exceptional experience out in the snow!

Christmas Wish 2012 offered several homes an opportunity to provide each child in the home with a 'wished for' gift, along with a special holiday party for home staff and kids. Being able to spend a little money on something 'lighthearted' is truly a luxury for most homes, but it is priceless for these children to feel a little extra love and attention over the holiday season. Not to mention the joy that a small toy, new piece of clothing, book or game can bring - helping kids feel like kids in challenging environment. 

English Adventure Snow Camp 2013, held in two locations (Miyagi and Niigata campsites) proved once again to help develop children's perspective, self-confidence, and teamwork abilities. From snowshoe treks, skiing, igloo building to sledding and simple snow play- the kids learned to push through some of the more challenging/new activities by working together and receiving positive encouragement. All of the children's snowy experiences were sprinkled with English lessons throughout--giving the more experienced English speakers a chance to practice what they've learned in school, while nudging the more shy/inexperienced speakers a chance to learn some new phrases and boost their confidence. Even more, those campers who attended last year's Snow Camp were able to serve as "mentors" for the new participants--and their ability to dive more fully into each activity this time around was certainly apparent. 

Both programs, although quite different, provide levels of care not regularly experienced by these children due to institutional-style home life; as hardworking and caring as many home staff members are, it's difficult to provide consistent 1:1 care for so many children. Feeling cared for during the holiday period is key for children, and getting out into nature for pure playing pleasure and new experiences helps children open up their minds to new possibilities and insights about themselves. Thanks to the continued support from the GlobalGiving community, Living Dreams has been able to extend these program opportunties to Tohoku children's homes. A special present to open or a snow trek on a bright sunny day with a positive mentor goes a long way in brightening a child's spirit.

We truly thank every single special donor for helping to make a difference!

And as the 2nd anniversary of 3/11 approaches, GlobalGiving is planning a special 100% matching campaign for the start of March. If you or anyone else is interested in supporting future programs like the Christmas Wish program and English Adventure Snow Camp, this campaign will help stretch your donor dollars much further. Stay tuned for more details and updates regarding the 3/11 donor-matching campaign. 

Happy New Year, and thank you for your kindness!

-Living Dreams

Super Snowy Trek!
Super Snowy Trek!
Playing with new toys!
Playing with new toys!
Nov 14, 2012

GlobalGiving donors heat up a home this winter!

From this December through February 2013, a children's home in Iwate prefecture will have their heating costs covered by GlobalGiving donations. The home is currently living in a pre-fabricated facility while they await the completion of their new children's home next summer. 
Since the disaster, the children (including the very young ones) have shown incredible patience and eco-consciousness. The home staff have been quite surprised and impressed by this acceptance and change in the children. Last winter, the night shift staff had difficulty sleeping each night due to the cold conditions in the home, but the children never complained! The plan again this winter is to use 10 oil stoves for each room and turn off at 9:00pm each night due to cost and safty reasons in their interim home. The children will sleep in sleeping bags with a couple of futon covers. Although they will be struggling to get over the cold winter, they have the English Adventure Snow Camp to look forward to in early January--again, thanks in part to GlobalGiving donors! Since their interim facility is quite small, the Snow Camp is a great opportunity for the kids and staff to seek relief from stress--while playing and learning in nature. 5 homes in Tohoku will have an opporutnity to participate in these camps, and we'll provide a full update on their adventures in January.
The home's staff and children are grateful for the support they are receiving to help heat their home and attend Snow Camp. Without continued support from around the globe, these homes would be facing a lot more challenges as they continue to move forward from the devastation of 3/11.
For the month of November only, GlobalGiving is holding a special 100% matching program for our projects with Tohoku children's homes. We hope that you'll check out this special program, and we thank all of our donors around the world who have truly helped make lives brigther in Tohoku. 
Stay tuned for updates in January about English Adventure Snow Camp, tutoring progress reports, and the Christmas Wish program
Wishing all of you around the world a safe, healthy, and peaceful end of year and New Year!
Warmest regards,
Living Dreams 
Oct 10, 2012

Summer FUN brings some relief and hope to Tohoku children's homes

English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp

Summertime is always a great opportunity to provide our Tohoku children's homes with some old-fashioned summer activity fun--offering relief from the school year and also from their distressed communities. Only 17 months post 3/11, children's homes are feeling stronger and spirits are improving every day. This improvement is certainly attributed to special ongoing support programs that are offered to our netowrk of homes--thanks, in large part, to our GlobalGiving donor community. Fall has now arrived in the Tohoku region, but the memories created these past few months still remain strong in the children's minds. Home staff are especially grateful for the support their children have been receiving... it fills all of their hearts to know there is a large community (near and far) helping them in their healing process. Please continue reading on to find a snapshot of several summer 2012 support programs which took place at various Tohoku locations, with an additional profile on a fall program kicking off this month... 

Summer BBQ/Outdoor Sports Festival--Fukushima Prefecture

17 English teachers, 15 staff members and 43 children took part in this special outing held at a Fukushima prefecture children's home. Volunteers arrived in the morning, first prepping all of the BBQ meats and veggies, while giving the kids a chance to help out and interact with foreigners. Many of these volunteers have become "regular" visitors at the home which creates a comfortable rapport with the children and provides new experiences for them to open up to adults. 

Perfect weather helped ensure plenty of outdoor playtime and since the home had an upcoming dodgeball and softball tournament, the volunteers helped the kids to practice. After working up a good sweat, a water balloon fight ensued and volunteers put out a giant tarp coated with dish soap, creating a 'slip n slide' for kids to enjoy. 

Something as simple and easy as a BBQ feast and outdoor sports made for a lot of laughter and high spirits at the home that day.

English Adventure Camp--All Tohoku

This is the second summer several Tohoku homes had an opportunity to participate in a five-day, four-night summer camp outing. The camp provides experiences in nature, outdoor fun activities, and team building skills--all blended in with some English learning in a fun environment!

Held at the National Hanayama Youth's Nature home in Miyagi prefecture, kids had the opportunity to interact with international staff members, all the while practicing their English. Many kids do not have an opportunity to speak English on a regular basis, so it was a great experience for them to do so in a relaxed and fun environment. It was also the first time many kids had been away from the home for as long as five days!

Kids enjoyed and experienced a variety of activities. 'Green Adventure' was a favorite among some campers--where kids were presented questions about the forest and had to search for answers by observing the forest! Climbing was another activity providing children with a chance to overcome a challenge. They climbed onto high places, walked along wooden logs, and climbed up poles. And everyone seemed to get such a kick out of 'stream climbing' - where they walked up and down stream, jumped in and out of the water, and watched one of the camp counsellors climb up a waterfall structure! Kids also experienced some basic "mountaineering" skills--learning how to use a compass to navigate their hike and even participated in a nighttime hike where many fireflies were spotted. Star gazing, campfires, and dips in the onsen rounded out an amazing summer camp adventure for many children.  

Mosquito Screens Purchase--Iwate Prefecture

One home in Iwate prefecture required 5 mosquito screens for all of their home's doors and entryways. As they are currently living in a pre-fabricated facility (while their home is under a planned and necessary reconstruction), it was much appreciated that they could easily open their doorways this summer without being bothered by pesky mosquitos.

Exam Cram Tutoring Program--Iwate Prefecture

Beginning this month, a home in Iwate prefecture will begin a five month 'Exam Cram' program for many of their children. Ranging in age from 9-15 years old, these kids will get focused academic tutoring support at a local Exam Cram facility. The home's educational environment has been struggling due to having only one paid tutor for the entire home. Further, their immediate area has no university currently open due to the tsunami disaster and local buses are scarce (with only a few services each day), making it difficult for any university students to consistently make the trek to the home from another town. Therefore, having the funds to put towards sending their children to the academic facility will provide these kids with distinct opportunities to improve their academic skils and situation.

English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp