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Jun 13, 2019

Youth Impact Report Summer 2019

Hello Youth Impact Supporters,

 Thank you for your generous support of Hands On Tokyo`s Youth Impact. This spring has been very busy for the Youth Impact team. In addition to all the regular volunteer projects with special needs individuals and vulnerable children, we continue to support the LIVES Food Truck and Youmewe`s Designing Artists Academy. We are looking forward to updating you on all of these projects in this report.

 Volunteering with our community partners remains at the heart of the Youth Impact program. It is here that our students learn how to assist and empower our community partners. Our repeat student volunteers often note that consistently volunteering with the same demographic has helped them to cultivate meaningful relationships with communities we serve and has taught them the tangible, positive impact of volunteerism. Hands On Tokyo is really proud that our students have internalized this message and are committing to volunteering regularly. We hope that you can take pride in them too.

 As for topics we are teaching in class-we have focused on teaching practical lessons such as: reading clocks, exchanging money for goods, learning about world cultures. In addition, we always make time for the students to get creative. Our St. Patrick`s craft and painting were a class favorite. We hope you enjoy the picture from our classes.

 On a different note-the LIVES Food Truck has made some very important strides. For just a gentle reminder of what the LIVES Food Truck is- it is a food truck that employees individuals with mental and physical disability. Our special needs workers prepare, cook, and serve the food with the assistance of student volunteers. We believe that this model represents not only inclusivity and empowerment of differently abled people-but also what a collaboration between special needs individuals and students could be.

 We are proud to say we have made tangible strides concerning this project. As of April 2019, we have started starting selling around 80 lunches per week-all of which are prepared by our paid special needs staff, Hands On Tokyo, and student volunteers. You can catch us at Meiji University`s Izumi Campus on Thursdays and Showa Jyoshi University in Sangen-Jaya on Fridays. Additionally, generous donations have helped us ensure that special needs employees are paid the Japanese minimum wage-1,000yen per hour. If you are interesting in learning more about this projects and ways to support it, I encourage you to check out our global giving page (https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/lives-food-truck/).

 Finally, I wanted to touch quickly on our collaboration with Designing Artists Academy, our summer art day camp for children living in institutions because of poverty, and abuse and neglect from family members. The camp will run from August 12th to August 20th. Each day children will get to experience different creative methods: photograph, jewelry making, t-shirt decoration, painting, and many others.

 We have recruited 7 students from Youth Impact to support the camp as mentors or artists. Our volunteers` ages range from sophomores in high schools to seniors in college. We are really proud of the diversity of our volunteers, and also the interesting ways they will contribute. Our student artists will be leading cupcake decoration, ceramics, and mural painting. The other four will be mentoring our vulnerable children-encouraging the campers to express themselves through art and most importantly, create a positive relationships with the children. For more information, please check our Designing Artists Academy page on GlobalGiving (https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/designing-artists-academy/).

 We want to say a big thank you again to our donors. Since the renewal of the Youth Impact program in 2017, we have evolved significantly. We hope that every time you read one of our reports that you are able to see that as well and note all the ways we have used your donations to educate young people in Tokyo. We look forward to updating you again in three months time and thank you again for your support. We hope you will consider investing in us again.

Jun 11, 2019

LIVES Food Truck Report Summer 2019

Thank you for your generous support of the LIVES Food Truck. Your investments have allowed us to significantly expand the LIVES Food Truck and we are so excited to share our updates with us in this report.

As we mentioned in our last post, securing venues to sell our food has been the most challenging aspect of finalizing the Food Truck. We are proud to say we have successfully accomplished this goal. As of April 2019, we have started starting selling around 80 lunches per week-all of which are prepared by our paid special needs staff, Hands On Tokyo, and student volunteers. You can catch us at Meiji University`s Izumi Campus on Thursdays and Showa Jyoshi University in Sangen-Jaya on Fridays.

As of now, our special needs staff have mastered cooking a ratatouille and grilled chicken rice dish. This is a major feat for our disabled employees. All of them came in with very little cooking experience, but were eager to learn. However, as you can imagine, the reality of food industry was much more difficult; learning how to prepare food, make it presentable, all the while interacting with customers and volunteers was, initially, a very daunting hurtle. Our staff had to learn cooking and serving skills very quickly and adapt to new, and often, multilingual environments.

Watching them become more comfortable in their roles as chefs and servers has been incredibly inspiring. We are very proud of the bravery on taking on these new challenges, and we hope that you, our donors, take pride in them as well. We believe that they are an example of the powerful impact training and investing in differently abled individuals can have in our society.  

Twice a week, young people on two college campuses are able to see people with disabilities successfully run a small business. We believe that this helps breaks stigma around special needs people. LIVES Food Truck is proof that disabled individuals can execute various tasks in a professional environment and are fully capable of working within a team. We are so excited that we are able to share this message with young people, as they will help drive the movement of inclusivity forward in Japan.

Now that we have this strong base, we are looking forward to expanding the menu in the future. If you are in Tokyo area, we encourage you to come out on either Thursday or Friday-meet our staff and try our delicious and healthy!

We thank you again for your donations to the LIVES Food Truck. They are essential in helping us sustain and expand our program. Most importantly though, your donations help us to ensure that we can pay our disabled staff Japanese minimum wage- around 1,000 yen. Even if our staff worked at national welfare centers, they would only earn 50 yen per hour. With your support, we can ensure that our staff are compensated ethically and that they are respected as full-fledged employees. We hope that you will consider another investment in us so that we can maintain this payment system. Thank you and we look forward to updating you again in 3 months!

Jun 3, 2019

Baseball Project Spring 2019

Thank you very much for all your generous donations so far this year.  You are helping us further prepare the 2019 Baseball Project for Natural Disaster Survivors for junior high school baseball players from Kumamoto and Tohoku.

 This year`s project will be held in Los Angeles at the end of July, so we must complete all of the preparations and fundraising over the next seven weeks.  As we say in Japanese:  Ganbarimasu!  We will do our very best!

With your generous support, we will bring together and provide approximately 20 junior high school baseball players and their coaches from Kumamoto and Ishinomaki with baseball, leadership, teamwork, communications and disaster preparedness training and have them participate in a volunteer activity.  One of the former participants from Kumamoto who is now in high school will participate as well as an intern to learn further leadership, management and communications skills.

This Project was inspired by Shohei Ohtani joining the Los Angeles Angels as a pitcher and designated hitter.  Ohtani is a hero and great inspiration in the eyes of many young Japanese baseball players.  We thought how can we inspire these young baseball players to aim high and to be future leaders in their communities if we don’t aim high ourselves in organizing this project? We are very excited to be organizing this project so that these young baseball players can gain further confidence and life skills by training overseas and by playing baseball with their peers who are overcoming many challenges growing up in underprivileged communities in the greater Los Angeles area.  It will also be a very meaningful learning experience for their peers in the greater Los Angeles area who will be participating in this Project.  Baseball is a wonderful way of bringing people together and promoting greater understanding and compassion between different cultures and communities.

Kumamoto experienced several earthquakes in April 2016 including a 6.2 magnitude (on the Japanese scale) earthquake on April 15th and a 7.0 magnitude earthquake (on the Japanese scale) in April 16th.  More than 50,000 people were evacuated from their homes and more than two years later many are still living in temporary housing.  Many of the buildings, including schools and the iconic Kumamoto Castle, were severely damaged.  Kumamoto is still very much a city undergoing long-term reconstruction.

 Ishinomaki in Tohoku was one of the areas most severely impacted by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  A 33 foot wall of water traveled more than three miles inland leveling 80% of the homes and destroying many other buildings.  Eight years later Ishinomaki is still rebuilding and many are still living in temporary housing.

 In both cities, school buildings and sports training facilities were impacted.  For example, school baseball fields have been used as locations for temporary housing. 

 Since our last report, we have been very busy preparing for this Project.  There is still lots to be done by the end of July!  We are meeting regularly with Major League Baseball representatives to organize the baseball training workshops.  In addition, we have are meeting with sponsors and potential sponsors to arrange for in-kind and other donations.  And we are in regular communication with the local junior high schools and junior high school baseball coaches.  We also have been conducting orientations in Kumamoto and Ishinomaki and meeting with the young players and their coaches and parents so that everyone will be well prepared to enjoy and maximize this wonderful opportunity and learning experience.

 We also have been expanding the impact of this Baseball Project in Kumamoto as we are working with a different junior high school this year.  The baseball team we have worked with in the past cannot participate this year as they have to play in a tournament in late July.  We are very excited as this gives us an opportunity to nurture even more future leaders in Kumamoto.

 Everyone is extremely excited about this Project and we are certain that these young baseball players from Japan and the United States will work very hard to learn as much as they can from this Project.  The future looks bright!

We greatly appreciate your generous support and your making it possible for us to provide baseball, leadership, teamwork, communications and disaster preparedness training to all these promising young kids who are -- and will continue to be -- leaders and role models in their local communities. 

 
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