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 Children  Japan Project #36067

Designing Artists Academy

by YouMeWe NPO
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Designing Artists Academy
Miraikan Taimei
Miraikan Taimei

DAA PLANNING UPDATES

DAA founding camp director Miho Walker (residing in Australia) and YouMeWe NPO founder Michael Clemons (residing in Tokyo) visited three of the children's homes (orphanages) participating in DAA this year. Each home is looking forward to the relaunch of DAA. The following are comments we received from the homes. Miho and Michael also visited Miraikan Taimei, the DAA camp venue located in Ikebukuro, to meet with the venue director and to inspect all of the rooms to be used for the camp. 

 

DAA VENUE - Miraikan Taimei

DAA will take place at Miraikan Taimei(in Ikebukuro), which is a former school. We will lease out the entire third floor which consists of 4 classrooms, 2 orientation rooms and a staff room, with ample space for 40 children to participate in art workshops in the morning and various  other art, music, dance, and  cooking classes in the afternoon. The children will also be provided with a mid-morning snack, bento for lunch, and a mid afternoon snack for their bus ride back to the children's homes (orphanages). 

 

VOICES FROM THE CHILDREN'S HOMES

"We are very excited to hear that DAA is going to be restarted again this year. After the full camp format of DAA was discontinued due to lack of funding, we realized how much of a valuable experience DAA had been for our children. It was the best memories of their summer vacation. There aren't any other camps like DAA in Japan, so we really appreciate the existence of this camp." - Comment from Ms. Yoshigo, St. Joseph's children's home

"We are looking forward to DAA. We would also like to ask if it's possible for you to hold this camp during the Obon vacation week in August since most of the children do not have any families to return to during that week." - Comment from Mr. Matsuda, Tokyo Katei Gakko children's home

"Some children can’t go back to any family during the summer holidays, so it’s good for them to attend a program like this to refresh themselves. We really appreciate the support of the camp staff." - Comment from Kodomono Ie children's home

 

VOICES FROM THE DAA TEAM

Amy Moyers-Knopp, camp founder                                                                                                                       

Back in 2008 while I was helping to develop another NPO that supported Tokyo children’s homes, I kept gravitating towards the idea of an art therapy camp.Rather funny in that I had no serious skills as an artist but what I could recall from my youth years in community theatre plays and nearly 10 years of dance class was that feeling of truly connecting with my inner self as well as the fact these activities often served as an outlet for stress release when I had a bad day.  So right there I knew you didn’t have to have a flair for the arts, have any specific skills, but rather just enough curiosity and thoughtful guidance to make an arts program meaningful for kids. Especially those kids who have PTSD, fears, anxiety, and low self-confidence.I saw DAA as an outlet for children to open up and experience new ways of expressing themselves guided by positive role models. It was all about the experience and environment.

Creating a safe, fun, relaxed space for kids to learn about themselves. So with a small group of talented friends, including Miho Walker, we set out to create our camp that could serve as an effective support program for our network of children’s homes. Convincing home staff of this [new to them] camp model took months and months of discussions. At one point, we weren’t sure if even 5 kids would sign up. But sure enough, we ended up that first year with more than 30 kids registered. We learned a lot that first year. Made a lot of improvements to the camp based on that first year. It was a stressful process at times but what we did see that very first summer was encouraging… kids coming out of their shell and experiencing positive relationships with adults. Kids discovering new skills and interests they didn’t see before. Kids seeing a peek of their true potential. . .  it was a magical end to that first year’s camp and convinced us that we were on the right path. 

Miho Walker, DAA founding director                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I will never forget the speech that one of the girls gave on the final day for the first Designing Artists Academy back in 2009. She said that DAA was not just a camp for her but a growing experience that changed her entire summer, and that she looked forward to DAA the following year. Back then which was 10 years ago, I understood the importance of DAA. But now that I have a 4-year old daughter and a 1-month old baby girl, I see DAA as "necessary" and not just important, because while both my daughters will be able to attend this type of summer camp every year, the children in the homes do not have the same opportunity without DAA. There are other free camps for these children in Tokyo, but they tend to be much shorter, perhaps 3-days maximum, which does not make it easy for children living in these homes to feel comfortable, open up, and fully immerse themselves. Additionally, since DAA recruits international artists, volunteers, and group mentors who are fluent in Japanese, the international environment combined with Japanese mentoring is a very impactful experience for the children.  I hope that we can keep DAA running for many more years to come.

Mr. Matsuda, Tokyo Katei Gakko
Mr. Matsuda, Tokyo Katei Gakko
Ms. Ishigo of St. Joseph
Ms. Ishigo of St. Joseph's
Staff Members at Kodomono Ie
Staff Members at Kodomono Ie
Amy Moyers-Knopp and Miho Walker
Amy Moyers-Knopp and Miho Walker

 Happy New Year! May this message reach you after a relaxing holiday and a great start to 2019. My name is Jessica Chen, a university student volunteer representing the Youth Impact team at Hands on Tokyo. I am very excited to be a project leader of the Designing Artists Academy’s 10th anniversary camp. Through your support we are one step closer to providing around 40 children the opportunity to self-discovery. We hope you will continue to support our cause.

 Volunteering with Hands on Tokyo has been an eye-opening experience. Last year I was honoured to begin volunteering at children homes in Tokyo. During the sessions, we combine English with art much like Designing Artists Academy at their summer camps. Every few months I have had the privilege of designing and leading such sessions. Today, I wish to share with you the positive development of the children I am working with.

 Get physical: Move! Whether it may be using treasure hunts, obstacle courses or “Red Light, Green Light” combining actions with vocabulary, sentence making and conversation practice makes all the difference. Physical movement has been proven to release endorphins, a feel-good hormone, and helps children focus. This increases the speed of learning and productivity.

 Integrating art work into our sessions has proven effective as well. There is no right nor wrong in art; therefore, every piece of art is cherished for its merits and none, negatively judged. In this environment safe for expression and consistent encouragement from volunteers, children have grown confident in their choices. When I first joined, some children would peak at what others were doing and copy. Now I am constantly amazed by the variation of art work they produce; each truly reflecting their beautiful selves.

 Confidence gained through art has also caused a positive effect on English learning. Through their self-assurance they are less cautious of making mistakes, a huge factor which has the potential of inhibiting learning. This is exactly what the Designing Artists Academy wishes to see at our camp. Using art as a stepping stone, we hope to see more children gain confidence and slowly be able to be independent. Both for now and in their future life choices. I truly believe this camp is going to benefit those who are able to join and feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this process.

 I hope you will consider the aim of Designing Artists Academy to be worthwhile. Any donation will help us provide the chance of self-development for these children. Thank you for your time and we wish you a great year ahead!

Happy Holidays to our supporters of Designing Artists Academy. We hope that this message finds you with your loved ones and enjoying delicious food. My name is Marie Gray, and I am a volunteer representing the Youth Impact team at Hands On Tokyo. We are a bilingual NPO that organizes volunteer projects for young adults with special needs individuals, senior citizens, and at risk children. We are very much looking forward to our collaboration with the Designing Artists Academy this year.

 I am fortunate to manage a monthly English and art session with a children`s home partner in Tokyo. Today I wanted to tell you about the positive impact art has had on the children I work with, and why I decided to link up with the Designing Artists Academy.

 For the past 2 years, I have been fortunate to watch my children`s evolution, and develop teaching methods to match their interests. What I have learned is that traditional English teaching methods are not engaging enough. Often times, kids are learning English in schools, and after a long week of studying, they want to try something completely new.

 In contrast, what has proven successful are teaching programs that incorporate creative opportunities. I usually teach a theme du jour. We spend 45 minutes learning the new material, and then students spend the reminder of the lesson creating material with their assigned volunteer. At the end of each 2 hour session, the children present their creation to their classmates and volunteers.

 This structure is effective for several reasons. The first reason is that students get to put their learning into the action. The second reason is that they can receive one-on-one attention from a volunteer with whom they can practice their English. The third, and most important, is that children are empowered to challenge themselves and practice self-expression. This is particularly important to cultivate for this demographic.

 Eventually all of the children`s homes` residents will be forced to leave the homes when they complete high school. They will have to find ways to be self-sustainable without oversight from staff who made major life choices for them their entire lives.

 Therefore it is of outmost importance that they feel confident enough to be their own advocate. It is better to begin this process while they are young and have mentors and caregivers who can nurture these skills.

 Art is a gentle way to foster these skills in children. For me, I have watched them develop these strategies in my class, and seen how much more confident they have become. Now we have a class full of students proactively engaging with myself and volunteers and taking pride in who they are.

 Designing Artists Academy reflects this same model, but with even more creative outlets. Dancing. Yoga. Painting. Drawing. You name it, and Designing Artists Academy is probably offering it. I believe this program has the potential to inspire and impact more children throughout Japan. With 9 successful years under their belt, Designing Artists Academy is constantly finding innovative ways to teach art. It is an incredible privilege to be a part of this program.

We hope that you will also find the goals of the Designing Artists Academy to be inspiring too. We also hope that you will consider an investment in this program, particularly on November 27th. GlobalGiving will match all donations made between Eastern Standard Time November 27 12am and 11:59pm, Japan Standard Time November 27 between 2pm and November 28 1:59pm, and London time (GMT) between November 27 5am and November 28 4:59am.

 Any amount will help us ensure that as many vulnerable children will be to join this camp at zero cost to them. Thank you for consideration, and we look forward to keeping you posted throughout the year.

 Happy Holidays!

Marie

Thank you for your interest in Designing Artists Academy. With your support, we will be offering our 10th anniversary camp for vulnerable children all over Tokyo in August 2019.

 Close to 30,000 children live in 603 homes across Japan because they cannot live with their biological parents due to abuse, neglect, poverty, or the inability of parents to financially or emotionally support their children. Due to existing laws that protect the biological parents` rights over their children, adoption in Japan is extremely rare and difficult. For example, in 2016, 3,000 children were separated from their parents. Only 550 children were adopted, while the remaining 2,500 children were assigned to institutions. As a result, most children live in homes their entire lives until they are released from care upon completion of high school. Additionally, once children arrive in the homes, they often are unable to receive as much support as a child who lives in a 2 parent household.

 Caregivers within the institutions are incredibly empathetic and have thoroughly invested themselves in their roles. Their tasks range from making meals, staying overnight, helping with homework, and providing support wherever it is needed. However, 1:1 support is very difficult, as most homes have child to staff ratio of 6:1 and frequently higher. As a result of inconsistent support and untreated PTSD, children often experience decreased motivation, lack of confidence, and a distrust of new adults.

To give you a small snapshot, only 15% of institutionalized children complete university course work and they are more susceptible to poverty during adulthood.

 In response to these deep societal problems, we founded the Designing Artists Academy 11 years ago. We believe that art is therapeutic, and ultimately leads to a healthy medium to practice self-expression, while working with responsible adult figures.

 Through art and unconditionally empathetic mentors, children are introduced to new ways of learning, expression, and most importantly new ways to perceive life. Children are full of potential and we are investing in their development. Throughout the years we have seen visible, immediate impact for the participants.

 Using a third-person perspective in conversations has helped some children tremendously. For example, children who initially refused to talk, begin communicating through puppetry and drawings. Other children find comfort in yoga, dancing, storytelling, painting, and cookery. All of these activities and more will be included in this year’s camp. As one of the one home staff said,

         "The children were able to enjoy various workshops in a relaxing atmosphere, and it was a good experience for us staff members, because through those workshops, we were able to observe the unique character of each of our children."

 The 8-day camp will provide artistic workshops for approximately 40 children from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Each session will have a designated mentor who will support and inspire children to challenge themselves in small groups. Every day, children will try new art mediums in the morning, followed by lunch, and in the afternoon they will self-select a session. The camp culminates in an art exhibition open to the public with the theme `Stories of Tokyo: kids exhibit the heART of their city’, giving children a chance to showcase their accomplishments over the 8-day camp.

 We hope that you consider an investment in Designing Artists Academy 2019. Your donation will directly influence vulnerable children`s education and emotional development. We look forward to posting more information as planning comes into full swing, and thank you for your consideration and support.

 

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Organization Information

YouMeWe NPO

Location: Nakano-ku - Japan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @YouMeWe7
Project Leader:
Jessica Anchia Chen
Nakano-ku, Japan

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