[IWATE, JAPAN, 3 May 2012]
The Japan Committee for UNICEF (JCU) creates opportunities for children to participate in the recovery and reconstruction process as part of its assistance activities in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. JCU also supports the efforts of Otsuchi Town (Iwate), Onagawa Town (Miyagi) and Soma City (Fukushima) so that these municipalities are reconstructed in a manner that allows children to live fun and comfortable lives.
In Otsuchi Town, Iwate Prefecture, there is a very limited amount of space where children can play freely and safely. The Management Section of the town's Community Development Department is thus working to create parks (play areas) on the grounds of support centres in temporary housing districts. JCU has provided a wide range of play equipment, such as slides, in order to support these efforts.
JCU provides assistance to ensure that the construction process reflects the opinions of local residents so that the completed parks are a place where the town's children and residents can come together. On 23 October 2011, a parent-child workshop was held where parents and their children discussed ideas about the color and types of play equipment for the parks. (Please click here for more information about this workshop.)
On 3 May, an opening ceremony was held at the Kazuno Bridge Support Centre (Kazunokko House) in Otsuchi. The ceremony was held to commemorate the completion of play equipment modeled after a pirate ship and castle, which were constructed adjacent to two temporary housing district support centres, one in Otsuchi and one in Kozuchi.
The day of the ceremony was unfortunately met with rain, but nevertheless attendance was received by a large number of people, including the parents and children who participated in the workshop.
At the ceremony a greeting was delivered by Mr. Dobashi, head of the Otsuchi Town Community Development Department. In his message he noted, "Some children are forced to live in temporary housing in a completely unfamiliar environment. It is my hope that these children will use this play equipment to make many, many new friends."
When the new play equipment was being constructed, excited children from the neighborhood flocked to the construction site to see for themselves their new community play area. Children at the opening ceremony told JCU how excited they were to use the new equipment, saying, "I can't wait to play!" and "I'm happy that the play equipment is so colorful."
All photo credits: © Japan Committee for UNICEF