In 2013 we decided to reflect on how we can make the most impact moving forward and decided to focus mainly on the
Digital Native Program
Most children have little (only 5%) access to technology. Enriching and enabling these children through access to the Internet and its tools is a world opener for many of these children. Recent statistics show that only 9% of kids from children’s home attend university, compared to a national average of 50%. Having choice is so important in life. Our core focus during 2014 is to develop a 1 to 1 laptop/tablet program program with a Cloud based ecosystem to enrich and enable the children we serve. Our six targeted pilot homes in Tohoku & Tokyo should be actively up and running from June 2014.
This includes the overall cloud architecture in place with individual accounts, home wireless installation, laptops/tablets, a few learning programs (Recruit Career Path & support program), Office 365, Skype (1:1 mentoring), and video content in the cloud to provide examples of what needs to be curated in the future. We are highly encouraged by the various partners who have joined us so far.
Originally established Fall 2008 through generous grants made possible by the AT&T Foundation and AT&T Japan, Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, and Tokyo American Club Women’s Group, the Digital Natives program launched. In 2009 & 2010 a total of 14 homes received new computer labs. Since then, we have received additional support from Barclays Capital, American Chamber of Commerce Japan (ACCJ), Merrill Lynch, and Asie au Coeur.
Current 2014 Digital Native Dream Makers include:
Working with talented local and international artists, sessions are developed for the various age groups at Tokyo International School for the past 5 summers. Sessions and workshops typically include all of the arts for the children to explore, enjoy and develop a passion around.
The Designing Artist Academy has been therapeutic for children dealing with traumatic stress, low self-esteem and other challenges. Upon completion of academy, children have a unique opportunity to celebrate their participation at Designing Artists Academy with an evening designed especially for them. Together artists, volunteers and children have a chance to share their work and experiences from the academy with the others.
Christmas Wish program has involved over 300 people (individuals, organizations, schools, and companies) from the local community, and has made for a bright holiday for over 400 children of all ages. This is a great bridge activity to bring together the community and children’s homes.
Because the holiday period can be especially difficult for those children living in children’s homes, this is a unique program that Living Dreams has been offering for years. This is less about material gifts and more about the time spent planning with the home and visiting with the children. And since most homes don’t have much budget for Christmas presents, this is an extra treat for the children.
Sports and Outdoor
In summer 2009 we launched a couple of outdoor camp opportunities made possible by the generosity of Sports Camp of America (SCOA) (www.scoacamp.com/) and Canyons Outdoor Adventure Experiences (www.canyons.jp).
In 2013 English Adventure (www.english-adventure.org) started their own NPO to support these children in activities related to the outdoors.
They tailor programs for our homes that combine sport activities, experiences in nature, as well as the opportunity to practice English if desired.