Many children in Fukushima, Japan, are affected by the fear of health risks from radioactivity having been released in the air by the nuclear disaster since March 2011. We conduct a series of outdoor/indoor camps to give such children what they miss and more: playing and learning opportunities in an extreme fashion, with university professors, corporate researchers, artists, athletes and other professionals, assisted by university students as elder friends of the children.
Many parents in Fukushima were reluctant to let their children play outside, because of uncertain health risks of radioactivity. The uncertainty led to differences in opinions, which in turn have often led to discords within families and communities. Healthy growth of children is at risk. Studies show slight decrease in physical strength of elementary school students and large increase in child abuse (75.8% more in 2012) in Fukushima, presumably caused by the limited activities and discords.
We provide what those children and their families need: diversity of experiences and lots of fun. We bring about 30 elementary, junior high or high school students at a time to areas with lower radiation levels, to conduct a series of camps during vacations (5-day camps in summer and 3-day camps in winter), packed with playing, learning and team-building facilitated by professionals in a variety of fields. We also promote communication among parents of participating children.
Fundamentally, problems lie in the political and economic gap between Tohoku region including Fukushima and Tokyo metropolitan area, which brought nuclear power plants to the region to begin with. Our camps are intended to bring up young leaders in Tohoku, and at the same time to increase the number of concerned people in the metropolitan area by recruiting our volunteers there. We expect to continue our camps for many years, estimating that a total of over 20,000 children will be benefited.