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

To the Supporters: Members’ Thoughts on the Last Three Years “Children-Led Clubs Leader Tour 2014” Vol.3 (September 6, 2014)

The Children’s Community Building Clubs have been working towards the recovery of their communities since June 2011. Find out what message the clubs members delivered at the “Children’s Community Building Clubs Briefing Session” on August 8. This briefing session was part of the “Children-Led Clubs Leader Tour 2014” that took place from August 8 to 10, 2014.

■ Panel Discussion: Each member was able to speak out frankly ■

Since their establishment, the clubs of Yamada Town and Rikuzentakata City in Iwate Prefecture, and Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture, from the fifth graders to the high school students, have been conducting various activities towards the recovery of their communities while consulting with community members, government officials, and experts. In the past, members have traveled to Tokyo to talk about their activities for the “2nd Children’s Community Building Clubs of Tohoku Summit,” on May 5, 2012, and for the working group for the Forum on the Rights of the Child, in November 2013. This time, the members went to Tokyo for a briefing session, where about 30 individuals and representatives of corporations that support the activities of the Children’s Community Building Clubs and Save the Children all came together. The highlight of the session was the panel discussion, titled “Through the work of Children’s Community Building Clubs,” with six representatives on stage, two from each club in the three Tohoku regions.

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■ Each member’s past, present, and future through the activities of the Children’s Community Building Clubs ■

Each member joined their club for different reasons. “It was the 1st Children’s Community Building Clubs of Tohoku Summit. One of my friends, who was a member of the club at that time, asked me to come along. Seeing people in my age group, involved in the recovery process made me want to do something for the community myself.” (Member since November 2011, High School Junior, Female, Ishinomaki City)

We asked the members which activity they remembered the most. “To me, I remember creating the Yamada Karuta Playing Cards the most. Through the process of creating those cards, I learned a lot of new things about Yamada, my hometown, that I never knew.” She also said that it reminded her of the fact that she studied a book about the community, written by a community member in her elementary school class. (Member since July 2011, High School Senior, Female, Yamada Town)

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Things were not always smooth, though. Being involved with studies and after school activities, committing to the club for three years was not easy for a lot of members. “It was difficult for me to continue club activities while studying hard and engaging in after school club activities. The concept of children-led activities like our club is new to people around me, including myself, so they understood neither the purpose of the club nor my passion for it. They were worried the community building club might interfere with my academic achievement or after school club activities.” (Member since August 2011, High School Senior, Female, Rikuzentakata City)

One of the members said, “Since I am stubborn, I just keep telling people that I have to go anyway. At first, they were telling me that that’s not a place for us to visit that often, but as time went by, they gradually changed their attitude and started encouraging me whenever I left for the club.” She earned the support of people around her in her own way. It seems that they are not the only ones having difficulties staying engaged in the club activities while keeping up with school studies and after school activities; however, they found their own ways of coping with it.

“I don’t like it at all when I have no clue what was going on after I miss a meeting. So whenever I missed a meeting because it conflicted with study or after school activities, I reviewed what happened in the meeting by asking other members and staff. (Member since August 2011, High School Junior, Female, Ishinomaki City)

 

One of the reasons why members still engaged in club activities despite their busy schedules is the positive psychological impact that the clubs have had on their members. One member describes, “I used to have real low self-esteem before joining the club and even hated to see myself in the mirror. I was always walking with my head down. At school, I couldn’t speak out, and would rather go along with whatever my friends were saying. However, our club has three promises that the members have to keep; “participate,” “respect,” and “keeping confidentiality,” based on which, the other club members listened to my opinions without being critical when I talked. Because of that, I became more positive and started to feel like I need to express myself” (Member since August 2011, High School Senior, Female, Yamada-town)

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Many members developed specific dreams for the future. “By making good use of my experience, I would like to become an art therapist in the future and work for a child-rights organization to help children involved in community building and disaster prevention. I like to draw, so I would like to provide art therapy for children by creating art together with them.” When asked for the reasons behind her dream, she eagerly explained, “People tend to tell us that we can’t do this because we are children, but my experience in the club has taught me otherwise. Therefore, I want to become the one to tell children that they can say and achieve whatever they want!” (Member since July 2011, High School Senior, Female, Yamada Town)

Another member told us, “I have started to think that I want to work for a social service organization. I don’t know how to put it, but learning about the power of children through my experience in the club made me want to help children in the future,” and, “We have a lot of elementary school students, and they often surprise us with their unique opinions. We have so many different members in our club as well as the clubs in Yamada Town and Ishinomaki City, and their opinions vary so much. It is amazing how all the members cooperate with each other to realize members’ visions. I feel like I should not be stuck in Japan for the rest of my life and should see the world.” (Member since August 2011, High School Senior, Female, Rikuzentakata City) It seems that members realize how powerful children can be and it has broadened their horizons about their future.

■ Describing the Activities of the Club Using one Chinese Character ■

At the end of the meeting, each member picked one Chinese character to describe their activities in the club!

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「繋」 “Connection” To me, the club is a place to connect with other people. In fact, it connected me with the students of other schools, the younger and the older community members, and residents of other prefectures that I wouldn’t have any connection to at all if I were not a club member.” (Member since November 2011, High School Junior, Female, Ishinomaki City)

「絆」 “Bonds” The exchange of opinions with government officials and community members provided great input to our Children’s Center. I believe it was the bonds that made it possible.” (Member since August 2011, High School Junior, Female, Ishinomaki City)

「素」 “Genuine” I could be myself whenever I came to the club. When I made a rough sketch of the mascot for our community, Matsushii, on a post-it, I didn’t think it would be adopted as an official character. It taught me that your dream can come true if you make an effort. The club is the place for me to genuinely speak out my opinions.” (Member since August 2011, High School Senior, Female, Yamada Town)

「家」 “House” Members of KYT are like a family to me. Being in the club makes me as comfortable as I am at home. We join forces together like a family and act like a family, which even scares me a little, but in a good way.” (Member since July 2011, High School Senior, Female, Yamada Town)

「革」 “Revolution” As I was born and raised in a closed society in the countryside, the club was almost like a revolution to me. Thanks to the club, I got to meet with people from Yamada Town or Ishinomaki City where I wouldn’t usually visit. I started to think deeper and broader about my future.” (Member since August 2011, High School Senior, Female, Rikuzentakata City)

「笑」 “Smile” I picked “smile” because those who come to the briefing session and summit always leave with smiles on their faces. Also, it is because our club puts a smile on the faces of community members.” (Member since March 2013, Junior High School Senior, Male, Rikuzentakata City)

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■ We want everybody to grow more love for our community! We will keep working towards recovery ■

What did you think of the members’ thoughts about the last three years while working towards the recovery of their communities? After the briefing session, supporters left comments: “By listening to the children’s presentations, I could really understand that their activities are the paths to the future, and the panel discussion made me realize how the club activities brought positive change to the members.” “Watching members making presentations with their sincere words was very encouraging. I would like to visit Tohoku area to learn about the attractive elements of their communities from their perspective.” And, “I see how the club activities provide children with an unique opportunity to grow as people, which they cannot receive at school or at home.” It seems that the members’ presentations gave an insight to the participants. Club members also left messages for the supporters: “It is because of you that we could come this far. As we learned more about community building, my love for the community grew a lot. I would like to see more people becoming fond of our community, so I would like to stay involved in the community recovery process. The club is one of the few places for me to express myself, so I am very grateful to be part of it.” And, “Thank you so much for supporting out activities. Because of the club, I could figure out what I wanted to do in the future, to help create an environment for children to transmit their voices. In order to realize my dream, I would like to work hard now to make our community more cheerful.” While being grateful for the generosity that they receive from their supporters, the members continue to strive everyday towards recovery. Save the Children Japan will keep working with the children in order to join forces with adults and children towards the recovery of Tohoku. Speaking Out From Tohoku!