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.
Fukushima Kids spring camp was held in Onuma, Yubari, Hidatakayama, Kyoto, Hyogo, Nagasaki and Kumamoto from March 23rd to April 2nd in 2013. 175 kids joined this spring camp and did lots of activities sucha as cooking, drawing, doing arts and craft and so on. More than 150 volunteers supported this camp program.
"The spring where the flowers of Fukushima Kids bloomed"
Held in seven regions all over Japan: Onuma, Hokkaido; Yubari; Gifu Prefecture; Kyoto; Hyogo Prefecture; Kumamoto; and Nagasaki Prefecture
Chairman of the Executive Committee for Fukushima Kids
We were able to safely finish all seven of the spring Fukushima Kids courses that started on March 23rd (Onuma, Hokkaido; Yubari; Gifu Prefecture; Kyoto; Hyogo Prefecture; Kumamoto; and Nagasaki Prefecture) on April 2nd. We saw the children return to Fukushima after finishing their activities in each place with a satisfied look that they had completed their activities without regrets. Each of their hearts is now filled with many more amazing experiences. I think that their experiences during this time will give them a "power to keep going" that will be useful sometime in the future. Like flowering cherry blossoms, the children's smiles burst into full bloom. Even when they returned to Fukushima, they held on to that brightness and hope, and their excitement for the upcoming summer Fukushima Kids activities kept their spirits high.
This is all thanks to the kind hearts of all of the donors who supported these activities.
Today, in our sixth Fukushima kids program held since the summer of 2011 when the Fukushima nuclear accident occurred, participating regions have increased from just one in Hokkaido to seven regions today, and I feel that ourpartnerships are strengthening. I would like to sincerely thank all the volunteers from these seven regions.
Everyone in these regions who read and embraced the "Fukushima Messages" that the children brought kindly accepted the cares of Fukushima and made them their own. Although it appears that society is trying to avoid speaking about Fukushima and wants to forget about it if it can, Fukushima is not over.
The members of the executive committee, including myself, have already begun moving toward the next summer vacation. The "smiles and spirit of the children" are the power of the future. To move towards a society that will support this power, we would like to continue expanding our connections with citizens and the scope of our activities.
I graciously ask for your continued assistance and support.
"To Everyone in Kyoto"
Thank you very much for inviting us Fukushima Kids to Kyoto this time. I was really happy when I first heard that Icould visit Kyoto for the first time. Two years have passed since the earthquake disaster, and I still have painful memories but the reconstruction is also certainly making progress.
Through these activities, I wish to be able to contribute to the society when I grow up. And I would like to be a person who will definitely repay the kindness to all the people who have given us support.
M. Shirahashi (girl)
We had big winter camp project from December 23rd to December 30th in 2012. The project name was "Fukushima Kids Winter Camp 2012."
This project was held in Hokkaido ( north part of Japan), Fukushima, Yokohama, and Ehime.
247 children could enjoy so many activities and see so many people. They could run and play without wearing masks. They could play by the beach. They smiled at the every moment. Their smiles were so bright and beautiful!!
368 volunteers supported this project for the children. They cooked, cleaned, drove, played, talked, sang, and brought smiles for the children.
Thank you for your big support from all over the world.
We want to bring other big smiles for the children of Fukushima.
A letter from a child;
Hello. This is my third time participating in Fukushima Kids. I participated once in the Summer of 2011, once on December 23rd, 2012, and this is my third time.
Right now, because of radiation problems, the time we can play outside in Fukushima, where I live, is restricted. But in Ehime, there is no radiation like this. We can play outside all we want.We can exercise. I am very happy that I can do many things that I couldn't do in Fukushima here.
I enjoy the heated swimming pool here in Ehime. There is also a pool close to my house, but it is not open in thewinter. I would like to have fun in the pool as much as I can.
I enjoy picking mikans. I want to pick a lot of them and eat them. My birthday is on December 24th, Christmas Eve. It's my first time spending Christmas and my birthday away from home, so I'm a little nervous. I am looking forward to having a Christmas party with everybody here. I am very happy to have so many fun things happening to meright now. Thank you in advance for a wonderful 7 days.
Misato 12 years old girl/ 6th grade
Fukushima Kids SummerCamp 2012– Report Date: 2012/7/23 (Mon) to 8/23 (Thurs)
Accepted regions: Hokkaido, Fukushima, Ehime Total number of participants: 518
Summary of Activities
Vice Chairperson Hirohiko Yoshida
The "Fukushima Kids" activities were started in the summer of 2011 in response to the Fukushima nuclear accident which will surely be remembered in world history. It is intended for the children of Fukushima during the long school holiday period. It also accepts kids from Hokkaido, where there are also concerns about radiation. Since then activities have been held in the winter of 2011 and the spring of 2012, and on this occasion the 2nd summer event was celebrated.
This summer we responded to the requests of children to be able to "Swim safely" not only in Hokkaido by holdingactivities at the Seto Inland Sea in Ehime. We also listened to the concerns of parents and guardians about their "worries of sending their kids far away" by offering a program in Fukushima Prefecture which allowed them tochoose activities in their home prefecture.
Our call for donations was met for the second consecutive year by a large donation from the Japan Society, as well as large amounts of financial support from other international organs such as GlobalGiving. Thanks to this support the activities were able to be confirmed. Upon receiving this we determined the number of children we could receive, and held briefing meetings to participants in the four districts of Fukushima (Fukushima, Koriyama, Iwaki, Soma) in July. Just like the previous year, wegathered a total of 520 participants.
On July 23 the first group of children set off for Hokkaido and by the start of August a total of 400 children in the other groups arrived in Onuma. From there they traveled all around Hokkaido. After that activities in Samegawa Village, Fukushima, and Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, began, and on August 23 the final group of children returned from Hokkaido back to Fukushima. This bought the end to the 2012 Fukushima Kids Summer Camp.
Fukushima Message: A letter from a child
I like Fukushima but....
Since the Fukushima nuclear accident I have been unable to enjoy my favorite past time of playing outside. Now it is only during the Fukushima Kids activities that I am able to play happily outside as much as I like.
The word "radioactivity" was one which was used only by adults before the accident but is now commonly used even among us children. There are now concerns about entering the pool, and because the radiation levels are high atthe top of the drainage ditch I am also unable to run around there. PE takes place almost entirely in the gym. My current biggest concern is whether or not we will be able to hold sports day on the school playing field. Just like lastyear, this year we were disappointed that the sports day was held in the gym without any relay races. There are various worries, and my mother and father have said: "Shall we take refuge in another prefecture?"
To which I immediately reply "No."
This is because I love Fukushima. It is because I love the grapes, peaches, and nature of Fukushima.
I am thankful for the support of so many people which has enabled me to participate in Fukushima Kids 3 times. I would like to convey my gratitude to those who planned various fun activities, the staff who took care of me, the students who played with me, and the kindness of the local people during the time I participated in Fukushima Kids.
Fukushima KidsExecutive Committee
The Fukushima Kids Summer Camp 2012 has been successfully completed with support from GlobalGivingFoundation and the donors.
We started activities for those children in Fukushima, who are unable to lead their lives as children dueto the effect of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, so that we can present them with a secure and safe summer vacation at the very least. Approximately 500 children escaped the impact of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant even this year, and were able to spend a safe and relaxed summer vacation in Hokkaido, the largest region.
The children played a lot, learned a lot, ate plenty, and went to bed exhausted. They were able to feel the warmth of people through interactions with the local people.
For the first time, the children spent a long summer vacation away from their parents, and they had a strong feeling of gratitude towards their parents.
All this has been possible thanks to the support received from all over the world.
The children will never forget this lifetime experience even after returning to Fukushima.We believe that these children will grow into adults who will emphatically shape the future of Fukushima.
We have received letters of gratitude from children, who have participated in the camp, to all those whohave provided support. Here, we present a sample of one such letter. (This is a letter written before leaving Fukushima.)
"To the people who are willing to accept me
Airi Seya, the 4th grade
The reason I took part in the Fukushima Kids camp was because I could no longer play outside due to the impact ofaccident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
I was not able to drink tap water, and I was able to play only for a short while with my friends. I was also not able to use the pool. The soil in the school yard reduced due to decontamination, and we used to study by putting ice in the classroom after closing windows so that the soil does not come into the classroom. (This is because there are nocoolers in the classrooms of schools in Fukushima.)
Last year was very boring. For a while after radiation was high, I used to refrain from playing in the neighborhood park.I was very hurt after the radiation started. On listening to news related to Fukushima prefecture, I felt very sad when people said terrible things as though the people of Fukushima are dirty.
So, I want to make a lot of friends in Hokkaido. I want to have as much fun as possible by playing outside, and I want to keep myself active. I would like to chat a lot with my friends. I want to have a variety of experiences. I want to do so many things which are not possible in Fukushima. I am really grateful to all those who have given donation in order to accept me.And, I am really looking forward to the two weeks in summer camp."
On behalf of Fukushima Kids executive committee, we sincerely look forward to your continued support.
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