Children  Japan Project #28361

Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children

by Asubito Fukushima, General Incorporated Association Vetted since 2017 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
Empowering Thousands of Fukushima's Children
harvesting carrots
harvesting carrots

In the summer of 2018 we continued our efforts to nurture the youth of Fukushima by creating opportunities to offer a variety of experiences to young people from elementary school to university age. They gain major insights through their activities on the front lines of reconstruction efforts and then have the chance to articulate their experiences.

 1. Connecting with technology through collaboration with local business

This summer we created many experiences, particularly for children of Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture.

 In June we offered a program that connects children with technology through collaboration with Kikuchi Seisakusho, a local manufacturing company. For the kids, actually manipulating drones by themselves was an experience in itself, but the direct knowledge that there was a local company creating new things like this gave them pride in their own community. The fact that a local company with advanced technology is making progress in recovery inspired the children to think that they too wanted to be like that.

 In August, we offered a program for kids to learn about renewable energy using their own physical experience. They pedaled a bicycle and also stored electricity from solar panels, but then discovered that when it was used in a solar vehicle, it would not even travel 200 meters. The experience with their own bodies led them to think about the large amount of electricity they use in normal life.

 2. Mentoring, emulation, and leadership

High school students who previously volunteered at our weekend programs are now running new activities under the name “Asubito Youth.” They want to be leaders and give elementary and middle school kids a variety of experiences. They take the main role in planning and implementing, while we at Asubito Fukushima support them by providing advice.

 In August, the Asubito Youth third-year high school students organized some activities on theme of food education. The students themselves approached local people growing food in their own household vegetable gardens and asked for cooperation. Ultimately about 20 kids and parents together harvested vegetables in the gardens, prepared curry dishes and enjoyed eating it together. The elementary kids gained an affinity for agriculture, learned the importance of food, and at the same time, developed an admiration for the older students running the program. Asubito Youth activities can teach many things through repeated achievements, and we expect their inspiration will be conveyed onward to the next generation.

taking a lecture how to operate a drone
taking a lecture how to operate a drone
operating a drone
operating a drone
harvesting an eggplant
harvesting an eggplant
cooking vegetables
cooking vegetables

Links:

Namie Flower Project-Planting seeds of blooms
Namie Flower Project-Planting seeds of blooms

In the spring of 2018 we continued our efforts to nurture the youth of Fukushima by creating opportunities to offer a variety of experiences to young people from elementary school to university age. They gained major insights through their activities on the front lines of reconstruction efforts and then the chance to articulate their experiences.

Visiting the nuclear accident site, discussing the deeper issues

The Asubito Juku (Social Entrepreneur School) is continuing its capacity building activities for high school students. As a special project during the spring break, nine high school and university students and our staff members went together for an observation tour of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Until then they had only seen it on TV and the Internet, so they were left with a strong impression by witnessing the actual site and the gradual progress being made to dismantle the reactors.

At an Asubito Juku gathering about a month and a half later, they delved more deeply into their impressions of the observation tour. To get a deeper sense of the significance of the accident, they read excerpts of an official report for the National Diet of Japan by an independent investigation commission on the Fukushima nuclear accident, and shared their thoughts while doing role plays to grasp the perspectives of the various stakeholders that appear in the report.Through the observation and discussion, the students noticed that their impressions from immediately after the observation had not been further processed, which led to the realization that the essence of the problem is when people stop reflecting on things.Rather than seeing just partial aspects of the nuclear accident, from this program the students learned the importance of seeing the actual site themselves and then continuing to think about things from various perspectives.

University student directed projects in former evacuation zones

Two student-led projects that sprouted from the project incubator camp for high school and university students last August have been making real progress. The Manhole Cover Art Project in the Odaka Ward of Minamisoma City and the Namie Flower Project in Namie Town are both in areas that were designated as evacuation zones after the nuclear accident. The evacuation orders have been lifted, and residents are returning but life has still not returned to what it was before. To keep the projects moving ahead university students and working people in Tokyo are in close communication with residents who have returned to those areas.

A common theme of the two projects is that it’s students from elsewhere who are boosting the spirits of local residents. The average age of the population in these towns has gone up due to the dramatic drop in the working population after the nuclear accident, so the age demographic here is ahead of the rest of Japanese by twenty years. We are certain that by working together with these young people we can find some clues for solving issues facing Japanese society as a whole, by creating new value through these two humble projects in the affected areas.

Achievements of capacity building by positive example

Fukushima is in its eighth year since the earthquake and tsunami disaster, but even now local agricultural products are negatively affected by rumors related to the nuclear accident. With its spring edition this year, the "Fukushima Taberu Tsushin" (Eating Fukushima) food magazine that started from the inspiration of a high school student who wanted to do something to improve the situation has now been published for three full years. To date a total of 17 high school students over five school years have been involved in interviews and editing. In March, all of the members got together and had a look back at the achievements of the past three years.

Former editorial staff who left have Fukushima for university are thinking about their next plans now, making use of their connections with Fukushima producers that they met when interviewing for magazine articles. So even after leaving Fukushima they are staying close to Fukushima, and we can see that the older students who are moving ahead to create new value are an inspiration in the eyes of the high school students currently editing the magazine. We can see the fruit of the capacity building we hoped for by having positive models for the students to emulate, and this is a real achievement from the creation of this magazine.

Asubito Juku-Visiting the nuclear accident site
Asubito Juku-Visiting the nuclear accident site
Asubito Juku-Role plays
Asubito Juku-Role plays
Taberu Tsushin-A look back at the achievements
Taberu Tsushin-A look back at the achievements
All of the members of Fukushima Taberu Tsushin
All of the members of Fukushima Taberu Tsushin
Riding in a solar-powered car
Riding in a solar-powered car

From autumn 2017 to winter 2018 we continued our efforts to nurture the youth of Fukushima by creating opportunities for a variety of experiences for young people from elementary school to university age. Teams have now started planning the projects that arose from the "Asubito Fukushima Community" intergenerational entrepreneurs' camp held during the 2017 summer. Activities continue to move ahead.

(1) Experiences to think about "the other side" of the power outlet

In November and December 2017, participants learned about the mechanics of electricity generation, with activities that included fun experiences riding in a solar-powered car and competing to generate electricity with solar panels. The solar car ride was made possible through sponsorship by a company that supports our efforts. Students from the Odaka Industrial Technology and Commerce High School electrical program taught children how to generate electricity using hand-made generators that don't use fossil fuels. Participants also measured the amount of electricity generated by hand-cranked generators and solar panels and learned about the workings of thermal and hydro power generators.

The interest in energy issues has skyrocketed due to the nuclear plant accident after the major earthquake in 2011, and through actual experiences our activities are not only deepening participants' perceptions of the energy issues themselves, but also encouraging them to develop their own thinking about the issues. At the end of the sessions, participants were able to present their own ideas within their groups, and also to share them with other groups.

(2) Progress with projects selected from the Intergenerational Entrepreneurs' Camp

Progress is being made in implementation planning for two projects that were selected by the August 2017 "Asubito Fukushima Community" project incubator camp for high school students and working adults. A meeting was held in February 2018 for mid-term reporting on progress, and there were active discussions about moving forward with the projects.

For the "Manhole Art Project" depicting a local dragon legend in Minamisoma City, plans moved ahead for an event in late May 2018, and coordination is under way for the participation of children in classes at the Odaka Elementary School. Also, progress is being made for collaboration with Zero Emissions activities by local high school students to collect litter. Plans include an experiential walk through town by a variety of local residents.

Meanwhile, for the "Namie Flower Project" discussions continue on plans to plant flowers in a public space in front of a guest house, which will serve as a focal point for activities in Namie Town, which was also stricken by the disaster of 2011.

(3) Efforts to clear harmful rumors affecting Fukushima

Participants conducted interviews, writing and editing for the twelfth edition of the "Fukushima Taberu Tsushin" (Eating Fukushima) magazine, which carries stories with a food perspective. The magazine started from the desire of one high school student who wanted to do something to address the negative rumors that were circulating about agricultural products from Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear accident. For this edition, student reporters interviewed the Nakanome family, which raises pigs, and processes and sells pork products in the town of Izumizaki, and Mr. Usuba who grows strawberries in the neighboring town of Yabuki.

In addition, the student editing team, Fukushima farmers and magazine readers participated in a discussion forum to exchange views and opinions from the perspective of both producers and consumers, and there was an earnest discussion about what the magazine's students editors could do.

Competing to generate power with solar panels
Competing to generate power with solar panels
Studying how to generate electricity
Studying how to generate electricity
Student reporters and Mr. Nakanome
Student reporters and Mr. Nakanome
Interviewing Mr. Usuba
Interviewing Mr. Usuba

Links:

Creating Biogas from Field "Waste"
Creating Biogas from Field "Waste"

This autumn we continued our efforts to nurture the youth of Fukushima by creating opportunities for a variety of experiences for young people from elementary school to university age. Teams have now started planning the projects that arose from the “Asubito Fukushima Community,” an intergenerational entrepreneurs’ camp held during the summer. Things are now beginning to take shape.

(1) Workshops on theme of bioenergy

Our hands-on learning workshops were held twice for elementary and middle school kids on the theme of “Let’s create energy from the pumpkin field,” with collaboration from Associate Professor Chika Tada of the Faculty of Agriculture at Tohoku University. Participants are stimulated to think about the potential for creating renewable energy through the experience of creating biogas from field “waste,” including residue from squash crops harvested from the “solar sharing” field (farmland being used for both growing crops and photovoltaic power production). With support from local high school volunteers, the kids learn through the whole process of producing methane gas by the fermentation of organic waste, bringing water to a boil with energy from the gas, and confirming what they learned through countless questions, to the point where they can articulate their knowledge by reporting in an article for the local newspaper

  

(2) Promoting discovery-based learning

Many children are having the opportunity to experience renewable energy through discovery-based learning at the Minamisoma Solar Agripark, using the time allocated for integrated learning in the curriculum at primary and middle schools in Minamisoma City. Meanwhile, we received a steady stream of visits this autumn from primary schools in other cities in Fukushima Prefecture, including Soma and Date. We witness the kids’ cumulative development in little steps as they reflect upon their experiences and report about what they observed and thought, all on the theme of renewable energy.

 

(3) Progress with project planning from entrepreneurs’ camp

Three projects are starting to take shape since having been selected by the “Asubito Fukushima Community,” an intergenerational entrepreneurs’ camp in August that brought together participants ranging from high school to working age. One of them is called “Creating fun with manhole cover art depicting the dragon legend of Odaka Ward.” After two local tours since August, the team has settled on the goal of turning Fukushima Prefecture into the top destination for tourist satisfaction in Japan. They are now working with key advisors to consider the potential to do something with ideas like history of the dragon legend and farm experience. They hope to incorporate art to create new touristic resources that will be interesting to others, even though the subject may feel so familiar that local people tend to take it for granted. Trials are being conducted now with the aim of implementation in May 2018.

Producing Methane Gas
Producing Methane Gas
Workshops on Theme of Bioenegy : Presentation
Workshops on Theme of Bioenegy : Presentation
Experiencing Renewable Energy
Experiencing Renewable Energy
Experience Learning : Solar Panels
Experience Learning : Solar Panels

Links:

Summer School
Summer School

This summer we continued our efforts to nurture the youth of Fukushima by creating venues for a variety of experiences, for young people from elementary school to university age. Kids who first learned at our Minamisoma Solar Agripark at the elementary school age are now high-school students, and we can now see them volunteering in operations, so this summer we were able to witness the recirculation of human resources in the region.

(1) Summer school on the theme of renewable energy

On July 22, we offered various solar experiences for 72 elementary school children with their parents. First, using our own originally-designed movable solar panels, the kids observed changes in the amount of power generated when they altered the vertical and horizontal orientation of the panels. Next, they were able to use experimentation to solve questions and doubts when they conducted experiments with the three primary colors using LCD displays and were surprised to see color combinations that differed from their expectations. Finally, with new understanding of the characteristics of light, they made objects using light-refracting "polarizer" materials. Then, using the variations in interesting colors coming through the polarizers, they made creations such as kaleidoscopes and stained glass. This all deepened their understanding of solar light, using objects available around them and with high school students playing supporting roles.

 On August 20, about 30 elementary school kids and parents got together to assemble a street light to shine in a park, starting with individual solar panel components. Using soldering irons to make series connections of photovoltaic cells and then laminating them, they constructed a complete solar panel. Finally, they installed the completed solar panel for lighting in Sekiba Park beside Odaka Elementary School. The actual soldering work and light wiring was done by students from the electricity department of Odaka Industrial Technology and Commerce High School, who also carefully monitored the work by the elementary school kids.

(2) Intergenerational Entrepreneurs' Camp for high school students to working adults

On August 5 and 6, we organized what we called the "Asubito Fukushima Community," an entrepreneurs' training camp. It was held on one night and two days, with eight teams consisting of Fukushima high school and university students who are trying to create new value and revitalize Fukushima, together with working adults who support Fukushima, with the aim of actually launching social enterprise projects. 

They toured local places including Namie, a town where former residents are still not returning even after the lifting of evacuation orders that resulted from the nuclear accident, and Minamisoma's Odaka Ward, where post-disaster recovery is gradually progressing. The first day was dedicated to getting a sense of current conditions in the disaster-affected areas by interviewing and discussing the situation with key persons living there. On the second day, participants thought extensively about what they would do individually, and later each of the eight teams made a presentation of their project plans.

Summer School: Site-visit with parenents
Summer School: Site-visit with parenents
Summer School with Odaka High School Students
Summer School with Odaka High School Students
Summer School
Summer School
Asubito Fukushima Community:Discussion
Asubito Fukushima Community:Discussion
Asubito Fukushima Community:Presentation
Asubito Fukushima Community:Presentation
 

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Organization Information

Asubito Fukushima, General Incorporated Association

Location: Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture - Japan
Website: http:/​/​asubito.or.jp/​
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Rina Shiine
Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan
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