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.
Oct 31, 2011

Therapeutic and enriching programs for kids...

August Music Therapy Workshop
August Music Therapy Workshop

October 2011 Field Report

Over the past 3 months, our organization has continued to develop highly personal relationships with 19 homes across Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. Home staff have opened up to our team, sharing their current challenges, wishes and needs for the children under their care. 

Our initial phase of delivering "tier one" needs to homes (clothing, emergency flashlights, lunch boxes, sports gear, playground equipment, TVs, Wii players, PCs, digital cameras, camping gear, bikes, etc.) is now winding down so that we can focus on more continual, therapeutic and enriching programs for these children's homes. As our relationships with these homes continue to grow, we are able to better understand their home environments and offer beneficial programs across the categories of Learning, Arts, Sports and Technology. The below is a summary of what programs we are planning to execute over the next few months. In addition to the summary of plans below, we've included approved-for-use photos from our August Music Therapy workshop retreat.

Upcoming programs:

'We Have a Dream" art workshops- developed and led by Rotary World Peace Fellow 2010-2012, A.K.Reichert; using the 'We Have a Dream' pedagogigal guidelines, these weekend workshops will encourage kids to visualize and express their dreams in a creative format.

Christmas Wish program- many homes in Tohoku have lost funding for their regular Christmas holiday celebrations so we will execute the Christmas Wish program for upwards of 200 children this Christmas season; each child will receive one "wished for" gift valued around ¥5,000 each.

English Adventure snow camp- this camp provides children a chance to snowshoe and build igloos, all while practicing some English! Further, it gives kids a chance to build teamwork skills and enjoy 4 days of outdoor fun. 40-50 kids will have a chance to experience this camp in Miyagi prefecture.

In additon to the above, another "tier one" request will be met for a home in Miyagi with the delivery of 5 digital TVs and 10 pairs of soccer cleats. 

We look forward to brightening up the lives of kids through a variety of activities, including those listed above... 

Bowling break...
Bowling break...
Music therapy workshop
Music therapy workshop


Aug 8, 2011

August 2011 Tohoku Kids Support Project Update

August 2011 Tohoku

Our project co-leader, Mike Maher King, has recently moved to Sendai in order to work closely with 19 children's homes in Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima prefectures. During the week of 8/8/11 Mike will be driving to all homes to meet (once again) with home directors and to deliver various donations for their children. For this particular trip, Mike will be delivering new clothing for kids (mostly winter wear for 2012) as well as toys. 

Since April 2011, our organization has been working with these 19 children's homes to find out what their immediate and long-term needs are for their children. These needs have ranged from very basic items to more enriching program support (tutoring, camps, art workshops, etc). Not all of the homes have provided full details of their needs, but our goal is to have a starting base of information from all 19 homes by Fall 2011. 

Based on personal communications with homes, and completed needs assessment surveys by many of the home directors, we have been able to learn about many needs and have purchased and arranged for the delivery of the following for Summer 2011 across the 3 prefectures:

  • 5 day overnight summer camp (English Adventures) in Saitma for 15 children from 1 Tohoku home (AUGUST 8-12)
  • 3 day music therapy workshop in Tokyo for 15 children from 2 Tohoku homes (AUGUST 22-24)
  • 19 lunch boxes
  • 2 Geiger counters
  • 10 AM/FM emergency radios
  • 5 LED torches
  • 24 electric wall fans
  • 30 thermoses
  • 7 PCs
  • 1 printer
  • 9 TVs
  • 7 DVD players
  • 15 tricycles
  • 7 softball gloves
  • 2 softball bats
  • 2 rubber ball bats
  • 1 golf set
  • 13 basketballs
  • 4 tennis rackets
  • 30 tennis balls
  • 2 volleyball kneepads
  • 13 soccer balls
  • 4 soccer goals

The above is just the beginning of our organization's support plans for children's homes in Tohoku... once this first phase of (mostly) 'tier one' support is carried out, our organization will look to deliver more enriching-type programs such as more camps, snowboarding trips, arts therapy workshops, yoga classes, tutoring and computer labs through 2011 and well into 2012.

Upon clearance from the children's home staff (if permission is in fact granted), we will post photos from some of the programs and support delivered to date. Children's homes are very careful to ensure the privacy and security of their children. Only photos of children approved by the homes will be allowed to post here on GlobalGiving.

May 23, 2011

Early stories from survivors...

When the Tohoku Kids' Support Team went on their first early support run to the Tohoku region, Field Leader Michael Maher King spent time with children and adults at a make-shift shelter and children's home in Kesennuma. Aside from delivering very basic supplies (food, drinks, clothing, toys), this time was spent connecting with survivors and hearing their emotional stories--often told in a very stoic manner and always showing tremendous resilience and courage. Here are a few snippets of their stories... 

- Kei, 19 year-old who is volunteering in Dai-ichi shelter in Rikuzentakata. He spoke quite openly about losing many childhood friends and helping his family escape to higher ground. What is so special about Kei is that he's volunteering his time to teach kids in the shelter 'acapella' singing. He said, "you can't cry forever, it hurts a lot but I have to try and live my life and do what is best for my town."

- Very young boys (3-5 year-olds) were playing chess (or at least trying to!) when Michael Maher King sat down with them to ask how they were doing. One boy replied, “I’m okay, but my father is missing and my house is gone too." The other said that he had also lost his home.  They then played rock-scissors-paper to see whose turn it was at chess and were giggling with each other about 10 seconds later as one was trying to explain the rules of how to move a rook.  A perfect example of the importance of kids having space to be kids and the need for them to play. Further, it shows the importance of someone to be there to ask how they are doing at a time they want to talk about it.

- Akari, Junior High School student, also working with Kei teaching acapella, told Mike she was trying to stay strong for the younger kids. And then went on to say her sister's cremation was the very next day.

- Shimizu-san – 74 year-old who was a dance teacher and was looking after 2 kids that lost their parents – Naho and Takahashi Tsuchihiya (story also reported in Mainichi Shinbun). She said that their grandparents were coming soon and they may be living with them but she wasn't sure. Shimizu-san is just one extraordinary example of the Japanese spirit--truly looking out for one another without a second thought. 

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