KIWL 2019 Bike Ride

by YouMeWe NPO
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KIWL 2019 Bike Ride
KIWL 2019 Bike Ride
KIWL 2019 Bike Ride
KIWL 2019 Bike Ride
KIWL 2019 Bike Ride
KIWL 2019 Bike Ride
KIWL 2019 Bike Ride

Dear Donor,

 

This is our final report for the KIWL 2019 Bike Ride as we prepare for 2020. We did not know what to expect when we received a phone call at the Zoo in the latter part of 2017. We may be approached by a group called the "Knights in White Lycra" for possible sponsorship. We went in and met the board of KIWL and made a presentation and they said they would get back to us. As we were in the final stages of registering the NPO, it was a challenge to be considered for sponsorship but we stayed in touch throughout 2018 and made a pitch again.

 

We never really knew what to expect and as we look back and reflect on the 2019 ride we are reminded of all the things that one cannot imagine. With well over a dozen nationalities represented in the ride and the fact that the ages range from young 20s to over 65. It is not just Knights but Knightesses joining shows what is possible when people do not just think about ways to give back but actually get organized and move forward.

 

The fact that we all have more similarities than differences and everyone is concerned about children whether it is their own children or the children in your community which you are living in and making your own living.

The encouraging words from not only the dozens of company sponsors who are giving back to their communities but showing their employee riders that they support them in their efforts. The hundreds and hundreds of individual donations with the encouraging notes attached and passed on to a rider from a sister in the UK or a grandparent in the US. A connection between families back home with the families here in Japan.

The new friendships which form and the elation of being part of something bigger than yourself.

KIWL is an amateur international group of Japan-based men & women who 'get fit & give back' through sport & social events. Since 2012, KIWL has raised Y66.5 million for disadvantaged children in Japan, in particular those who are in institutional care due to abuse or neglect. Through YouMeWe NPO, KIWL aims to support the Digital Citizens project, transforming the hopes of the children and giving them prospects of a more successful outcome in adult life. 

Challenge

The next stage in giving for KIWL in partnership with YouMeWe NPO. Our primary mission is to help children growing up in institutionalized homes prepare for life outside the home once they reach the age of 18. We offer support programs that increase a child's opportunity to become a productive and financially independent young adult in their community. This means helping kids develop and hone critical skills such as language, writing, digital literacy, etc., and ultimately increase confidence.

OUR APPROACH

For the past decade we have been working closely with many children's homes in the Tokyo area to better understand each home's needs, unique environments and the interests of their kids.

Further, we continue to learn about the various challenges each home faces and try to determine how we can best work together to develop support solutions. It is important to note that without first understanding the dynamic of each home and getting to know the staff and children, we would not be able to create effective and lasting support programs. The other element to achieving our mission is engaging the local community - through volunteering their expertise and time.

We have included the pictures of the ride for 2020 and one of the founder of the NPO who is also joining this year as a rider.

We gave a speech at Christmas and mentioned that we are aware of the passion everyone has for the children living in the homes and how we can pull on people's heartstrings. But the truth of the matter is that the children are just getting on with life and that is the true contribution that is being made by having sponsored the KIWL 2019 Bike ride. You are helping the children with the means to get on with their next stages in life.

Aside from placing another 100 computers in our homes, we have increased our reach to be over 700 children and growing. 

We are grateful and thankful for your generous donation to this massive group effort.

 

Regards,

The board of YouMeWe NPO

Day 1
Day 1
YouMeWe Founder training for 2020
YouMeWe Founder training for 2020

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KIWL 2019 Bike Ride team
KIWL 2019 Bike Ride team

Someone once asked, "why do you do what you do with the children's homes in Japan" and we replied, "What if we didn't?

Sometimes when something is the right thing to do, you just do it."

We had the incredible chance of meeting KIWL in 2017 when YouMeWe was applying for NPO status and kept in touch throughout the setup and launch in 2018. We then received the life-changing news that they had decided to sponsor us as their chosen charity in 2019.

Getting fit and giving back can hardly capture the friends and family members we have all come to meet. The walk around the Palace where companies joined and co-workers ran as teams or family members walked with strollers and even some of the Japanese who had never walked around the Imperial Palace joined for the first time in their lives.

The pub quizzes and gatherings which was a great break from the hustle and bustle of life in Tokyo. The many months of planning and details that went into the KIWL 2019 Bike Ride were amazing. The seriousness and professionalism that went into the meticulous planning with the overall concern of everyone's safety was amazing to witness.

Then came the first day of the ride. It was quiet arriving at the hotel on the evening before the start...not many signs of what was to come over the following days and 500 kilometers aside from a few bags which had been couriered ahead of time or a bike in the lobby. By evening the hotel restaurant made pub was alive with welcoming handshakes and laughter before everyone headed to sleep for day one.

Then it all began.

Starting in Takasaki on a beautiful morning with a team photo and then four days of incredible Japanese landscape and beauty you wanted to just stop and stay in so many places along the way. The teams, the repairs, the GPS tracking and the brownies for recharging.

All the while the children at Fukushima Aiikuen waiting at the end of the 4 day ride and knowing the some of the people joining them on the last day had possibly never been to Fukushima and the wanted to make them feel as welcomed as possible. Studying about all the countries represented by the riders, their flag, their customs.

When we ask ourselves, what if we didn't meet KIWL and have their support in 2019? With almost 15,000,000 JPY raised offline and online. Another 100 computers have been given out in Iwate, Sendai, Fukushima, Tokyo, Saitama and Nagoya. Rooms filled with children coding for the first time or being taught Excel art by the Elderly. 9 year old kids presenting AI ideas to executives at Microsoft and preparing to present to 1,600 people in January 2020. Drones, robots and Sphero balls being programmed and coming alive by adults teaching kids and kids teaching kids. Weekly language classes using NightZooKeeper and connecting with kids in other countries. Financial Literacy training and career assessment tests to help them navigate their path forward. 600 children in over 16 homes reminded that their lives matter and we are not giving as much as we are investing in their futures.

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KIWL has been a tremendous support for our efforts. Through their charity bike ride, and various events coming up like the September 14th Rugby rooftop, the September 27th Video of the ride premiere, November 9th GO GO Run followed by 7 marathons over 7 days and the November 15th Golf Tournament, they have raised over 10,600,000 JPY of funding and are not done yet, allowing us to continue our efforts in the homes we support.

Since our last report we have distributed over 70 computers, and we have expanded to more homes while holding weekly sessions with the various homes in Tokyo and events in Tohoku.

At this point we have distributed 450 computers to over 10 homes. It is not simply a physical donation, but it is also our volunteers and staff continuously visiting the homes to teach digital, and language skills. We know that this continuous support is so important for the kids.

We have also expanded our efforts to provide education as it pretains to children in need becoming digital citizens. We have done this by offering our computer language lession sessions to more and more homes;Ichigo Jam, Scratch, Sphero Bolt, and more.

For language classes we are working with NightZookeeper, which is now providing NZK Missions. (An easier version of the English teaching tool that has many games.) Which has helped us to engage more young students as many are at different levels and some kids have special needs.

This past month we provided over 30 volunteers, funding and support for our 10th annual summer camp for disadvantaged children in Tokyo. 30 kids participated from 3 homes, and through this summer camp we introduced many of the children to the Ichigo Jam class, where they could learn basic programming language to give commands to a robotic car as well as ExcelArt with Ma-chan, the 84 year old programmer with her Mellow Club members.

The kids sat for and received certification in software such as WORD, POWERPOINT and EXCEL. They also presented their AI ideas and POWERPOINT skills to executives at Microsoft.

 

 Moving forward:

We are putting the finishing touches on a new digital citizen's curriculum which we are looking to offer in the coming few months. 

We are also be offering support with financial literacy training and career assessments to the older kids. This means gauging their interests, personality and competency, which will then determine possible career paths. We believe this is extremely valuable to help disadvantaged children focus on their future, and how they can thrive in society.

Our partnership with KIWL has been invaluable. KIWL is a diverse group of people but in the diversity we are reminded that we all have more similarities than differences and the main focus of giving back and investing in the childrens' futures will be paid forward for generations to come.

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We could not have possibly reached our goal this year without the ongoing support of KIWL and the fundraising underway. Aside from the GlobalGiving platform which makes it easier for people to donate online and for us to thank you as well as update you. We have raised over $81,000 (8,855,000 JPY) offline.

As summer approaches we are hard at work promoting digital literacy and connectedness to disadvantaged children.

We are holding events throughout the year to pique the children's’ interests and then based on their motivations we also connect them with NightZooKeeper which has the ability to reward the children for writing and participating in the programs with ORBS (points). A recent survey of the homes holding 600 children showed there are little to no arts programs. While in some homes we have given tablets and software to help with their animation talents, we also show how they can draw online with NightZooKeeper.

We have introduced CODE CLUB, SCRATCH, Working with IchigoJam $15 computers for programming and the children teaching the children about SPHERO balls which are programmable.

We will hold a MONEY CONNECTION seminar in summer to talk about financial literacy and budgeting which dovetails into the career assessment tests for this year. They need to see what things cost and how to find a job which will cover those costs. More importantly, what skills they will need in the 21st-century job market. Some kids are getting certification in EXCEL, WORD, and POWERPOINT which will be good for their resumes as others are studying JAVA and database skills.

Children born in the 21st century will live in the 22nd century and we do not know what technology they will use or what jobs they will apply for as neither has been invented yet. Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity are the three pillars at YouMeWe which we try to focus on as they have not changed for centuries.

Technology Donations:

While some of the children in the homes are 11 or 12, it is clear that they have not used a computer before. This is why when we donate laptops to the homes, we also take the time to educate the children on PC use and safe internet practices. We use the NightZooKeeper platform to connect the children, link to a Digital Citizenship lesson and reward them with ORBS (points) towards the next lesson.

Night Zookeeper:

The team at Night Zookeeper is hard at work expanding their available English learning content, and likewise, we are expanding and promoting it to more children in Japan and other countries. This is one way we are promoting connectedness through education. We also found that the homes lack art programs, therefore, we promote the fact that the kids can draw and create using the NightZooKeeper application. After each Unit of Digital Citizenship training, we will hold a global conference call with the other locations which are using the platform for the children to have discussions about common challenges like Cyberbullying or Digital Equity.

Programming Skills Education:

Some of the other programs we are teaching are:

Sphero Bolt: The kids are able to program a robotic ball through a code script to then perform a task. This is a fun interactive way to introduce the children to coding concepts.

SCRATCH: From the MIT media lab, Scratch allows kids to program their own games, stories, and animations. It builds on the same idea of using programing language to complete a task. It also adds a collaborative aspect allowing the kids to connect with other young users in different countries.

Design Artists Academy (DAA):

Our art summer camp for the children is being planned thoroughly, to ensure an amazing experience for the kids. Many professional artists and volunteers are getting involved. This is where we introduce A for Arts into STEM education to make STEAM.  Over 2 weeks the kids will have volunteer artists come and teach the children a well as the children teaching each other about IchigoJam and Sphero ball.

Child Safety Protocol:

As an organization, we are growing, and while we hold education as a core value, we need to ensure that every child's safety remains paramount. This is why we have added a Child Safety Protocol to hold ourselves accountable, and to act as a preventative measure for safety concerns in the future.

KIWL Jersey Sponsors
KIWL Jersey Sponsors

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Taiyo Gakuen, Iwate-ken Tohoku.
Taiyo Gakuen, Iwate-ken Tohoku.

Summary: 

YouMeWe NPO’s primary mission is to help children, in institutionalized homes, prepare for life outside the home once they reach the age of 18. To do this we focus on giving them:

  • Digital Literacy
  • Language skills
  • Connectedness

Though our work reaches globally, the majority of kids we help, live here in Japan tools and we are providing them learning opportunities to create a successful future for themselves.

“I hope for all of our children to have confidence and a dream for the future” Sister Theresa (staff at St. Francis children’s home)

 

 

Challenge:

Delayed mental growth, stunted emotional development, and a possible future of social dependence are the challenges facing orphans in Japan. The reality is that homes/orphanages are underfunded by the government. Just one staff member is left to take care of 3-5 children. This leaves the kids with less educational and emotional resources.

 

Solution:

Explain our method/system

Promoting children’s access to information, technology, and communication.

Connecting children everywhere through technology. 

Providing tools to grow language skills.

Providing tutoring support, internship opportunities, as well as guidance on university/technical school options, will offer children another critical layer of support as they start to make plans for their future.

 

Long Term Impact: 

By providing educational and mentoring-based support, we will be improving their opportunity to become a productive and financially independent young adult in their community.

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Organization Information

YouMeWe NPO

Location: Nakano-ku, Tokyo - Japan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @YouMeWe7
Project Leader:
Michael Clemons
Nakano-ku, Japan

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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