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

Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Children’s Center in Ishinomaki: Children are Realizing their Dream Town Plan! (June 16, 2013)

As part of the Great East Japan Earthquake Recovery Program, Save the Children Japan (SCJ) conducts community building projects that are centered around child participation. For instance, “Speaking Out From Tohoku (SOFT) ~ Building Better Communities through the Participation of Children!” is a project that assisted children in the forming of the Ishinomaki Children’s Community Building Club. In July 2011, in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi prefecture, the group “THE Rolling Stones ~ We call it ROCK” was formed. Since then, about 30 children from 5th graders up to senior high school students have been working on regular basis for the recovery of their communities.

It has been about two years since they formed their club in July 2011. On June 16, 2013, in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi prefecture, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Children’s Center. We would like to share with you this groundbreaking ceremony led by children that embraces the dream town plan of the club members.

■ Realizing the dream town plan through the Children’s Center ■

Ishinomaki Children’s Community Building Club prepared its “dream town plan” in the summer of 2011. They aimed to build a rock’n’roll town where both adults and children feel comfortable and with both new and old things blended together nicely. In order to achieve this “dream town plan,” they had the idea of a Children’s Center. Through this spacious facility, children want to realize a number of ideas, such as Yuttari-Hiroba (comfortable square) and Jisedai-no-Hatake (field of the next generation). In the fall of 2011 and also in February 2012, the children visited facilities in the other regions to see what they could learn from them. From January 2012, they started to build concrete ideas about the Center, and prepared a plan and design receiving some advice from an architect. Sometimes they had direct discussions with administrative officers of Ishinomaki City, and strolled in the shopping street where the Center would be located. They also interviewed other children so as to reflect the opinions of as many children as possible, and organized briefing sessions to exchange ideas with the adults of the community. The children took the initiative in preparing their final proposal for the Children’s Center. The Center has been planned to be a “facility by children and for children” under the proactive effort of children, mainly the members of Ishinomaki Children’s Community Building Club.

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Rendering of Children’s Center

■ Children “Speak Out!” in front of the Mayor: Presentation on the Children’s Center ■

The basic proposal for the Children’s Center was finalized and the designer and builder had been decided upon. Then, on June 16, 2013, one day before the actual groundbreaking, we finally had the ceremony that for over two years we had been preparing for! A hundred people attended the ceremony, including 18 Children’s Community Building Club members and 82 adults.
The first half of the ceremony was the “Presentation on the Children’s Center” by children at Ishinomaki City Hall. The Mayor of Ishinomaki City, 11 people from the School Board and attendees from the Earthquake Reconstruction Department and the Welfare Department listened to the children’s presentation. The children explained their past activities in planning for the construction of the Center, as well as how the Center could be best utilized.

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They also presented their thoughts about the Center in the form of a proposal for the preamble to the Children’s Center Ordinance. Children directly handed their petition to the Mayor saying, “To have children’s thoughts inherited to future generations even after the completion of the Center, please include our thoughts in the preamble of the Children’s Center Ordinance.”
> To read the petition, click here.

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The children also exchanged their opinions directly with Mr. Hiroshi Kameyama, the Mayor of Ishinomaki City. The members of the club asked him what he expected from the Children’s Center and from their activities. Accepting the children’s thoughts, the Mayor replied, “Tachimachi Shopping Street is a place where I used to play as a child. I want to see it full of people again, just like it used to be, with the Children’s Center as its focus. I have great expectations of the Center.” He also said, “Children are members of the local community, so I would like to refer to their opinions as well.”

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■ Groundbreaking by children and adults together ■

In the second half of the ceremony, we performed a groundbreaking at the planned construction site of the Center, which is a 10-minute walk from Ishinomaki City Hall. Parents, local people, school principals and councilors of Ishinomaki City joined the ceremony, which was hosted by the club members. Every participant was calling out, “Ei! Ei! Ei!” at the groundbreaking, and celebrated the commencement of work in a happy atmosphere!

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Participating children make comment

  • It was good that we could meet the Mayor and officers, hear their opinions and receive their answers to our questions. I was a little nervous when passing a hoe. (Female 6th grader)
  • We could present our various ideas and convey our thoughts to the Mayor and officers. Although the construction starts from tomorrow, our activities are not yet complete. I also want to start thinking about the operation of the Center. (Female 1st grader from junior high school)
  • The Mayor supported the vitalization of the Children’s Center. The groundbreaking ceremony was superb. (Female 3rd grader from junior high school)
  • I want to have the Children’s Center as a core of Ishinomaki’s reconstruction! (Female 3rd grader from junior high school)
  • I was nervous to have the Mayor next to me, and we couldn’t have enough preliminary discussions. Still, it was good that things went successfully. (Male 1st grader from senior high school)

Officers from Ishinomaki City Hall make comment

  • I want you to keep growing much more! I want all of you to be able to present your opinions and express yourselves! (Superintendent of School Board)
  • I want to have Ishinomaki as a city built by every person involved. I wish the Children’s Center to be a symbol of our reconstruction. (Head of the Earthquake Reconstruction Department)

■ Aiming to build a base for children’s participation towards community reconstruction ■

The Children’s Center is scheduled to be completed by December, 2013, but as the club members say, “The construction of Children’s Center is not our final goal.” The completion of building will not stop their activities. How they act after its completion is crucial.

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The completed building will be donated to Ishinomaki City as a children’s recreational facility, and will be managed and operated by the city. However, under the concept, “a facility built and operated mainly by high school students for the revitalization of Ishinomaki, and a place in which people can feel comfortable and children can convey their thoughts to people,” that the members prepared, children will also participate in the Center’s operation. SCJ will also support their operation so that the Center will be a base for children, particularly high school students, to take an initiative in various activities and promote their social participation.

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the administrative officers, parents and local people of Ishinomaki City, as well as Suntory Holdings for their financial support for the construction, and to everybody else who helped. Ishinomaki Children’s Community Building Club, “THE Rolling Stones ? We call it ROCK,” will continue their activities turned up to full rock power in community building and towards its reconstruction. We are grateful for your continuous support.

(Reported by Miho Shosenji, Sendai Office)