寄付・募金・ボランティアのセーブ・ザ・チルドレン・ジャパン

Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami Emergency response and recovery program

Winning a Running Race – “I’m So Happy!” New Uniforms for Soma Waragai Running Club (April 30, 2013)

As part of the activities of the RESTART JAPAN Fund (established for children from areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake), Save the Children Japan (SCJ) in collaboration with Sony Corporation, promoted the “Achieve Your Dream Project.” The aim of the project is to realize the dreams and address the challenges that children who will be responsible for the next generation face.
Soma Waragai Running Club is one of the organizations that we support through this fund. With our aid they purchased new uniforms and participated in the “7th Motomiya Road Race” held on April 12, 2013, in Motomiya City, Fukushima. Heavy snow blanketed the city that day, but 13 children (10 elementary school students and 3 junior high school students) braved the cold and a completed each race.

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Running against heavy snow in the Soma Waragai event

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Runners head for the goal in a snow storm

Hayashida-san (a 6th grader) took on the 2-kilometer course. His father encouraged him to start running at the age of two, and he joined the Soma Waragai Running Club when he was a 4th grader. He trains four times a week running as much as 12 kilometers each time. After telling us that his goal for this race was to be first, he left looking a little nervous. While many runners were swept off their feet by the snow, Hayashida-san did win the race.

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Hayashida-san with his medal

“I’m so happy!” With excitement, Hayashida-san proudly showed us the gold medal around his neck. His dream is to become a marathon runner, and his goal is to become like Atsushi Sato, a famous runner from Fukushima. After declaring that he would win again at the “Soushin Race” held in his community, he left the venue.

Kindly watching Hayashida-san was his coach, Ms. Ara. In addition to athletic skills, Ms. Ara teaches the children daily the importance of greetings and etiquette. In regards to the new uniforms and shoes that the children received through the Dream Realization Project, she said, “I told children that many people are supporting them. None of us thought that we would ever get new uniforms.”

Compared to other clubs, Soma Waragai Running Club has little opportunity to practice at their playground, so they practice on roads with few electric lights or only lanterns to guide them. Ms. Ara said, “Because we have such a practice environment, seeing the new uniforms we received through the fund, I thought that we really cannot lose the race for those who are supporting us.” She smiled and added, “So I feel very proud that we had a winner from our club for this week.”

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The coach Ms. Ara, says, “We have tried various measures in our practice sessions so that the children can fully utilize their power to achieve their ends.”

Hisada-san (7th grader), who ran the three-kilometer course in heavy snow, joined the club when she was in third grade. Her older elder sister holds the record in the race, making Hisada-san wish to break her sister’s record and she practices hard to achieve that goal.

When the earthquake occurred she was forced to evacuate and could not practice at the club for about six months. Remembering the days of evacuation, her mother said, “I felt depressed as her mother when I thought that she may not be able to run again. But she kept practicing hard, saying that she wanted to break her sister’s record.”

After returning from being evacuated, Hisada-san started practicing in earnest again. However, as there was no race organized, she couldn’t find the reason to practice without a fixed goal to aim towards. It was then that the new uniforms arrived from the fund. While trying on the new uniform in front of the mirror at home, she happily told her mother many times, “It looks nice on me, doesn’t it?”

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Hisada-san says, “Today I want to run with more experienced runners, so that I can see my goal more clearly and learn from them.”

Her mother said, “I am really glad to see my daughter running again.” It made me realize that they had prepared for this race as a team of two.

In order to bring smiles to the children’s faces through running, and to help them draw out their dreams, SCJ will continuously support projects where children can actively participate in sports and cultural activities.