Kirarin Kids (KK) is steadily preparing for its future development. The biggest news of the past three months is that they obtained an approval to become an NPO from the Government of Japan on December 26, 2013, for which they have been preparing quite a long time. They had the first preparatory meeting on July 28, 2013, to identify their organization targets as providing a place for parent-children interaction and promoting healthy development of children in a community. These goals are becoming ever more important as the disaster caused the decline of children’s population, destroyed many play-grounds, reduced community activities, and disintegrated community identity. By becoming an NPO they will further concentrate their activities on these goals and try to obtain supports from diverse sources, including Rikuzen Takata City. KK firmly believes in the importance of their work for community development.
They try to achieve the goals through their regular programs: (1) sessions for enhancing children-mother relations, such as Nobody-Perfect lessons, eurhythmic lessons with music, symbolic therapy, counselling by a professional, etc.; (2) excursions; (3) sports activities such as Kirarin yoga, baby massages, Kirarin refreshing exercises, etc.; (4) aroma activities; (5) mobile toy-library; (6) cooking sessions (traditional and healthy food, cookies, etc.); (7) birthday parties; (8) toy making; (9) collecting bell marks; etc.
In collaboration with the Niiza Childcare Network and the UNICEF, they are further developing father-children relations, especially for children whose mothers have been lost in the disaster. In the activities, KK now has a program called “On Sundays,” with a content support provided by an NPO called “Fathering Japan.” The program for father-children relations seems to be working better now than before.
So far, with the support from the GlobalGiving, KK offered two programs: one on IT sessions for mothers and the other on mother-children English play time. For the IT sessions, KK offered lessons once in September, twice in October, once in November and once in December, and completed their schedule for IT sessions. For English play time, they offered once in October and once in December.
Although they have to focus more on their original goals as an NPO, being still in the midst of a redevelopment phase from the disaster, they are still expanding their activities as requests come to them. In December, they held a “Health Festival” with a help from dentists and doctors belonging to the Tokyo West Rotary Club. The Festival not only offered dental sessions and first aid practices, but also events to bring the attention of parents and children to overweighing. Conditions in temporary housing seem to be generating unexpected side effects. Now, almost all school grounds are used as temporary housing sites which took away children’s opportunity for playing. For children living in remote temporary-housing sites, they now commute in a school bus, while in the past they used to walk quite a long distance to school. Thus, KK is now also helping in the field of children’ health care.
The Takata Osumi Shopping Archade where KK is located decided to open markets on 7th, 17th, and 27th every month. As a way to show collaborative sprit to the Shopping Archade community, KK decided to open their operations on these three days. This policy change creates additonal days of work, if markets are held on weekends. It is generating not only financial pressure to KK, but also some resistance from their staff, since they are already overworked. To make the situation worse, two staffs will leave Rikuzen Takata due to their husbands’ transfers to different locations. Now as usual, they have headaches from the shortages of both fund and staff.
They have been highly motivated, working hard, and achieving what they hoped to achieve. But constantly they are facing the same problems, suggesting that they still need supports from the GlobalGiving until they graduate from the phase of redevelopment.
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