198 kids enjoyed Fukushima Kids Spring Camp 2014. 61 kids went to Hokkaido, 31 kids went to Abukuma, 36 kids went to Hidatakayama, 40 kids went to Kyoto, 15 kids went to Hyogo, and 15 kids went to Nagasaki. They had chance to see many people, do lots of activities, and encounter nature.
Fukushima Kids... The Road to Hope
Fukushima Kids Executive Committee
Tooru Shinshi, Committee Chairman
1. Announcing our 5-year Plan in 2011
What we honestly feel in our hearts right now is that we have done well to get this far in three years. We would like to thank each and every one of you reading this 2013 report for all your wonderful support. So far, over 3,200 children from Fukushima have participated in the Fukushima Kids project. In my heart I strongly feel that we have made progress, one step at a time, towards the full growth and development of these children.
2. The Executive Committee’s Resolution
The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant explosion of March 12th, 2011 was an unimaginable incident. At that point, the local residents' ordinary lives were changed forever. When the disaster struck, I was running a small nature school in a sparsely populated area in the Abukuma Mountains, and I will never forget the tremendous fear we felt of the invisible radiation that was coming our way. This made me feel, "No matter what happens, we must never snatch away the smiles from our children's faces!" instilling in me a strong belief in the need to protect and help our children grow. By using the experience-based education network that I had built before the earthquake, we were able to form the Fukushima Kids Executive Committee. When we started this project, we were subject to slanderous claims, but our resolve did not falter.
We had to build systems for receiving donations, accepting children into our project, organizing modes of transport... there were tons of things that needed to be done.
The parents and guardians of Fukushima knew next to nothing about our private nature school, and some of them thought, "Is it safe for us to leave our kids with those strangers?" Therefore our first step was to work hard to assuage their concerns. The locations that needed our help were enveloped in an almost indescribable chaos. However, feeling that our actions would have great significance on the lives of others, we continued moving forward, constantly reflecting on our activities and making improvements to successfully complete our 9th initiative in 3 years.
3. The Growth of the Children and New Opportunities
The children who completed our initiatives became much stronger, kinder, and able to care for others. Parents and guardians were able to really feel how much their children had grown, which helped to gradually strengthen their trust in our executive committee. The locations we were able to help also came to include the whole of Hokkaido, primarily the areas of Onuma and Yubari. In addition, our cooperation network was also expanded to Gifu Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture, Kanagawa Prefecture, Kyoto, Hyogo Prefecture, Ehime Prefecture, Nagasaki Prefecture, and Kumamoto Prefecture. Although over time people who are far away have come to forget the situation in Fukushima, the areas we are helping have always been by our side.
At the beginning children join our projects passively, but then over time they gradually become more autonomous in their understanding that each one of them can be useful to others and bring them happiness. In the end they are able to act of their own accord to move towards the future. It makes us extremely happy to know that some of these children wish, "When I become an adult, I want to repay the favor to the people who helped me."
Today, we'd like to share stories of the people you have changed - through supporting our project.
Kazuki and Yuta
Kazuki and Yuta are university students living in Tokyo. After experiencing the earthquake disaster on March 11th, their perspectives in life changed significantly. Immediately following the earthquake, they did not know what to do, and they were plagued by worries.
About one year after the earthquake disaster, they came across the activities of Fukushima Kids. Up until then, they had a vague desire to do something, and this was the moment when they actually began to act. Through the activities of Fukushima Kids, they met many people throughout society, from middle school and high school children to the elderly, which allowed them to have many experiences and encounter different values and world-views. The most important thing that they gained through these activities was a connection with other people. They could not help but feel a connection with Japanese society and the world.
These young men want to participate in the next activity, and contribute even more to society alongside the people they connected with through Fukushima Kids.
Keiko is a housewife living in Fukushima, and the mother of two girls. Having experienced the great earthquake of March 11, she learned that life is limited, and has since felt that she should cherish every day that she lives. There were a lot of hard things after the earthquake, but it made her appreciate her neighbors who are helping out each other, and she learned that the world was still full of warm hearts, that the world was still worth living in.
In the fall of last year, she found out about Fukushima Kids. While people all over Japan gradually forgot about Fukushima, the executive council of Fukushima Kids and the many supporters kept working seriously for Fukushima and the children of Fukushima—that brought warmth to her heart. "If I hadn't participated in this activity, I would never have known that so many people are finding ways to support us—some supporters are elderly, some are small children, some have disabilities, some are struggling themselves in life—if I hadn't found this out, then I might have been caught in the bitterness of a victim mentality."
"I think that encouraging the many children of Fukushima with the knowledge that 'so many people around the world are supporting us' is an invaluable thing to do."
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Thank you for your support for this project, and thank you for tranforming the lives of Keiko, Kazuki, Yutaka, and many others!
This winter camp was the third time. It was from December 21st to December 29th.
240 children joined this winter camp from Fukushima.
Hokkaido 117 They had lots of activities with snow!
Abukuma 20 They spent times cooking, playing, and so on!
Yokoaham 63 They met lots of people and had fun with them!
Shizuoka 20 They could see beautiful Mt. Fuji and went trekking!
Ehime 20 They enjoyed playing with local children outside together.
They spent precious time with lots of volunteers and host families.
327 volunteers supported this winter camp. Many children were happy to see the volunteers who knew each other again.
Thank you very much for your big support.
Fukushima Kids executive committee
A thank you letter from the parents of two first-time participants.
In the two years since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on March 11th, 2011, our children in Fukushima City have had to wear masks going to and from school even in the summer, and have only been allowed to play outside for 30 minutes at a time. Decontamination inFukushima City is still not progressing, and we have no idea how many years it will take to decontaminate the district we live in.
Over the past two years, our children have not been able to play outside, leaving them with very few opportunities to play with their friends and causing them to lose something very important for building human relationships.
Our first grader is especially sensitive. She remembers how, after the earthquake hit two years ago, she has never once been allowed to play outside at kindergarten and has had to part with some of her friends. She has often talked about these things as they came back to her. Four months after the disaster, we were shocked to find that she had the largest amount of radiation of anyone in our family.
It was at that time that we read about Fukushima Kids in the newspaper, and enrolled our first and third grade daughters for the first time. Although we worried during the nine days our daughters were away at Fukushima Kids, they came back with their eyes sparkling, and continued to talk about the events at the camp for several days afterward. Even now after the new year has begun, they still sometimes spontaneously tell us about fun memories and all the people they met at camp.
There was something that made us happy as parents as well. We were surprised to find all kinds of supportive messages and gifts from lots of people inside our daughters' bags. We have carefully put away the heartfelt letters we received from the volunteers. The love of everyone involved in Fukushima Kids came overflowing out of our daughters' backpacks, warming our hearts and letting us know that a lot of people were supporting and encouraging us.
Now almost three years have passed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and people's memories are fading. We used to think "This disaster happened to us while we were making electricity for people in Tokyo, but Tokyo people are so cold and uncaring." But now our sentiments have changed to "There are so many people who still remember the Fukushima disaster, and who want to do something to help Fukushima and its children." Over those nine days, our hearts were full of gratitude for the love we received.
Our children who participated in Fukushima Kids are sure to hold these memories in their hearts and take great strides into the future. It is our dearest hope that they will grow into adults who warmly turn to help others in need.
Thank you very much. January 2014
As a result of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, many children have been exposed to high doses of radiation and have been forced into stressful daily lives in which they are limited in terms of participation in outdoor activities. Against this background, Fukushima Kids completed its third summer of events, aiming to allow these children to experience a wide range of activities and enjoy their long break from school in a carefree manner.
A total of 496 children participated in our third summer of events which were held in Hokkaido, Abukuma, Nagano, Minamiaizu and Ehime.
On Friday September 27, 2013 the committee of Fukushima Kids convened in Tokyo in order to commence preparations for its winter events.
With the addition of Shizuoka to the third winter of events, the number of organizations and locations which are accepting children on behalf of Fukushima Kids is steadily increasing.
On Saturday October 5, Fukushima Kids Summer Activities Report Conference 2013 was held in Tokyo, aimed at various supporters and volunteers who have participated in our events. The conference confirmed the intention of Fukushima Kids to continue to harness the efforts of local citizens in order to protect children from the current situation in Fukushima and help those children develop into the young people who will be responsible for the future of Fukushima.
Two and a half years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and many people tend to forget about the earthquake, the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and the people living in the disaster zone, unless they are specifically reported on. The number of organizations participating in support activities has also visibly decreased. Despite the disaster gradually fading in people’s minds, a large number of people continue to be involved in the events of Fukushima Kids, such as supporting individuals and organizations, and also volunteers and local residents of the areas in which our events are held. We kindly request your continued support as we continue our activities with the goals of giving children hope for the future and creating bonds between people, through providing support to the children of Fukushima.
August 1, 2013
Announcing Fukushima Kids’ Summer Camp 2013!
We are proud to be offering again this summer, for the third year ina row, the Fukushima Kids’ Camp, which started the summer following the March11, 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident.
This summer, 408 children will gather from July 27–August 25 in fourlocations in Hokkaido, Shinshu, Ehime, and Minamiaizu. This year stands out inthat we have added a course accommodating children with disabilities at theMinamiaizu camp, which will host 20 of these young individuals.
Over the past two years, approximately 4,000 volunteers have takenpart in the Fukushima Kids programs. These volunteers have supported ourefforts, while boosting the quality of what the programs can offer in theprocess. We have high hopes that this summer as well, volunteers will lend ustheir valuable time and energy.
Conditions in Fukushima Prefecture Remain Dire
After surveying on July 11 contaminated water in a 30-meterobservation hole near the building housing the turbines of the No. 3 reactor atthe Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Tokyo Electric Power Companyannounced that measurements taken of radioactive cesium 137 where approximately1,000,000 times greater than the acceptable limits set by the Japanesegovernment. With the fragmented nature of the information being reported, itremains difficult to get a clear overall assessment of the situation. Amidstthese circumstances, the prevailing mood percolating in Fukushima Prefecture isthat “we must not overreact.” As we solicit donations for our program, we oftenhear people ask, “Are the kids in Fukushima still unable to play outside?”There is not one blanket response that can be given to assess the entireprefecture, but it is clear that more and more people would like to put thenuclear accident behind them as much as possible. This sentiment does not stemfrom negativity. I feel it is just a natural reaction to having the abnormalforced upon us in such a way that it has become ever present.
The important thing to keep in mind is that me must not cease todeliver our care and concern to the children of Fukushima, nor come to thepoint where we, outside the prefecture, glibly weigh in on the debate overwhether it is “safe or unsafe.” The Fukushima Kids program has in fact seensome reductions since last year, but the number participating this summer isstill 400 strong. We accept this as a weighty responsibility and vow tocontinue our efforts for five years until the very last participant joins up.We sincerely ask for your support as well.
What we can do is to take this extended summerholiday as the opportunity to provide safe places for even a few more childrento have the most youthful, child-like, and fantastic experiences possible—justas any child would. We are grateful to have received warm support in this questfrom people all across the globe.
We simply must continue with this program for afew more years.
I thank you for taking the time to read thismessage and ask for your continued support of our efforts.
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