Kirarin Kids (KK) in Rikuzen Takata is operating fairly well with stable customers with a subsidy coming from the City Government, though they now have a few competitors dealing with pre-school children, such as Ayukko and Mama Salon. Mothers seem to make use of multiple facilities to satisfy different types of services offered by each group.
As written previously, KK tries to achieve their goals of providing a place for parent-children interaction and promoting healthy development of children in a community. These goals are achieved 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.
KK also offers diverse events. The most significant event recently planned is a meeting with the Mayor of Rikuzen Takata City, Mr. Toba, at the KK on May 23 (Fri.), when he will meet parents and other people to hear their opinions and exchange views. Also, as mentioned in the previous report, they continue offering a program called “On Sundays,” for father-children relations, with a content support provided by an NPO called “Fathering Japan.” They also started offering services in temporary housing areas every other month, so that mothers in remote temporary housing areas can have a chance to enjoy services offered by the KK.
Donations to KK made through GlobalGiving were mostly used for mothers’ diverse training programs. In addition to English language classes for children and mothers reported earlier, the IT lessons had the participation of seven to eight mothers. With the cooperation of NEC and some financial support from the Kiwanis Japan Foundation, lessons on Excell was held five times on Sept. 30, Oct. 1, Oct. 31, Nov. 28, and Dec. 5, 2013, and those on album making was held three times on March 4, 12 and 25, 2014. An impressive outcome of these activities is that not only mothers enjoyed and learned the basic of how to use software, but also one person got an employment at the Rikuzen Takata City, starting April 1, 2014. The DSIA seems to be contributing to the empowerment of mothers through the KK programs. Besides, such training is generating a new collaboration with another NPO, the Save Takata, which is developing a project, called Telework, to develop a system to bring works from Tokyo through IT connections.
Since the present temporary housing offered by the government is usually said to last two more years, what will happen with the present occupants of the temporary housing is becoming a serious concern. The KK has been contacting the City Government to find out its plan only to face the lack of information, uncertainty and frustration. The number of children in the city seems to be declining, which may require the city to make some selections with regard to childcare organizations. In a new city planning, there will be a cultural center planned to be built. But unfortunately, information about which organizations will enter the facility is not disclosed, while KK was informed to report its plan of operating location before the end of this year. It seems that by fall 2015, almost everything will be fixed. Given uncertainty, KK has set up several contingency plans of (1) remaining in the present place if they are allowed to do so; (2) renting an old house where they can have children engage in agricultural activities; (3) renting a space in the newly established city; and (4) moving into the cultural center. At this moment, they are finding it quite difficult to make any decision, while uncertainty is giving a lot of frustration to the KK. They are now facing new challenges, though they have fairly well overcome past difficulties. We need to psychologically and continuously support the KK, until it will overcome the last stage of redevelopment from the disaster. The KK still needs not only donations, but also psychological support from donors through GlobalGiving.
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