As usual, the “Kirarin Kids” has been active in not only offering regular children’s playroom services, but also arranging diverse programs for specific purposes every month. They arranged mobile library and toys services to come to their place and also offered seminars for child health by inviting medical doctors and health advisors. Especially these child-health-related services are highly appreciated by not only parents, but also the city government. A program called “Kirarin Mama” allows mothers to engage in diverse interesting activities which are not available in the area. For example, they offer aromatic experiences, refreshing exercises with balance balls and yoga, opportunities for learning how to wear a Japanese traditional kimono and how to cook traditional local food, which the local community keenly interested in maintaining their tradition. They also have seasonal events, such as planting potatoes and other vegetables, making Koinobori for Children’s Day on May 5, and creating presents for not only Father’s Day by female members, but also Mother’s Day by male members. What is impressive is that events for fathers have been significantly increased. This originally started as a program for fathers and children who lost mothers in the disaster. As I have reported earlier, it did not work, since hardly any father of this situation attends a session. Now, instead, a program called “Kirarin Papa” was introduced. Events are offered more frequently, creating an increasing number of opportunities for fathers to play with children. The program so far has covered such activities as fathers’ cooking class, fathers’ storytelling to children, and lessons on how to play with children.
The precious donation received from the 3.11 Japan Matching Campaign created interesting movements in the “Kirarin Kids.” Several female members expressed their interests in enriching the “Kirarin Mama” program, while the DSIA requested to use the donation for building the capability of people involved in the “Kirarin Kids.” Three Kirarin mothers are developing three programs by themselves. The first one is a computer course in cooperation with NEC. They would like to expand a course content which was previously offered by NEC, but this time with funding from the donation. The second one is to introduce English conversation class for both mothers and children, to which one English language school teacher kindly volunteered to teach. It may be quite interesting to see the outcome of this trial, since an English program for children up to age 3 is rather rare to be found in Japan, though it is naturally better to have children being exposed to English as early as possible. A part of donation money will be used for buying textbooks and covering the teacher’s transportation cost, a small amount since the teacher lives not far away from the Kirarin Kids. The third one is already offered in Otsuchi City. One bakery in Kobe volunteered to teach bread making, hoping his transfer of know-how will help the livelihood of people in the disaster-stricken area. He will give his know-how in ways that mothers, in the future, can sell bread to schools or shops, while mothers enjoy their own bread making. Once completing a program, mothers themselves receive a certificate enabling them to offer a bread making course to others. There may be some mothers’ ventures in the future. About cooking, another suggestion was made that they learn the cooking of local vegetables, and engage in creative cooking to produce “Kirarin Kids’ Recipes,” though they sounded more in favor of bread making, though. Well, it is interesting to see what the outcome of these activities will be. But at least, the three mothers are approaching quite creatively.
As the report here indicates, the director of the “Kirarin Kids” is managing well, generating gradual advancement in their programs, and successfully increasing the number of people helping her administration. But her worry does not end, since there are currently three similar organizations in Rikuzen Takata City. In the future, the City Government may reduce this number to a smaller number, since the number of children is declining. But at present, they seem to have unique advantages owing to the quality of their programs.
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