[IWATE, JAPAN, 21 October 2011]
On 8 October, a mini athletics festival was held at Otsuchi Preschool in Otsuchi Town, Iwate Prefecture. The Japan Committee for UNICEF (JCU) has provided Otsuchi Preschool with a range of assistance to support it reopen its doors, including a temporary school building and various equipment. Over four months have passed since the new preschool building restarted classes on 1 June of this year.
In Otsuchi Town, residents have begun their transition into temporary housing and residents that temporarily evacuated the area have started to return. Due to such circumstances, the number of children at the preschool has increased to approximately 60. Since the school reopened its doors, children have enjoyed classes at the preschool and reuniting with their longtime teachers.
The preschool’s principal was worried that it would be impossible to hold an athletic event in the new temporary building, but the children would not let her drop the idea. Everyone wanted to hold the event so as to create a memorable last experience for the older students. Therefore, a public hall was rented in town, allowing Fuji Preschool to hold their miniature athletics event.
As the teachers and families watched over the children, the energetic voices of their cheers rang through the hall. The phrase of the day was, “Do your best!” There were class performances, foot races, and parent-child events where the children ran back and forth across the hall. Since they started practicing the teachers had told the children that the most important thing was to work hard and make sure to finish. Some children became upset and cried when they accidently ran in the wrong lane or lost to one of their friends, but all in all everyone worked very hard.
These are the children that are to be the leaders of Otsuchi Town, and Japan, in 10 to 20 years time. They are sure to face difficult times again during their journey of life, but today in Otsuchi these children were overflowing with smiles and energy.
All photo credits: © Japan Committee for UNICEF