Asahi Shimbun Japan
June 23, 2013
By TOSHIHIKO NINOMIYA/ Staff Writer
YUKUHASHI, Fukuoka Prefecture—More than 100 kindergartens and nursery centers are joining hands to send tons of sand to Fukushima so that children can frolic in their beloved sandboxes again without radiation concerns.
At Kirakiraboshi Kindergarten in Yukuhashi, 50 children and their parents loaded a ton of sand into bags with scoops on June 22.
The kindergarteners also wrote messages and drew pictures to encourage Fukushima children.
“I want you to play together nicely,” said 3-year-old Himari Harada.
The kindergarten bought the sand to take part in a project organized by Pro-ho, a nonprofit organization based in Kita-Kyushu, which provides training to child-care workers.
Mariko Yamada, director of Pro-ho, launched the effort in May after receiving a letter from a kindergarten teacher in Fukushima who underwent training at the NPO last autumn.
Chiharu Ito, 41, wrote that Fukushima children were allowed to play outdoors from this spring, two years after the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
While children love to frolic in the sandbox, Ito said kindergartens have to buy fresh sand because radioactive materials that spread from the crippled plant cannot be removed.
Yamada had heard from Ito during her training that children cannot play in the existing sand due to radiation concerns.
She has secured 6 tons of sand after asking for support from those who received training at Pro-ho and other people.
A total of 9 tons of sand is expected to leave a depot in Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, where Yamada lives, on June 29, to be delivered to four kindergartens in Fukushima.
“I am happy because my wish is coming true, thanks to everyone’s goodwill,” Ito said. “I want to let children play in the sand as soon as possible.”
Many of the kindergartens and nursery centers participating in the project are in Kyushu.
Pro-ho also plans to send sand to kindergartens outside Fukushima, which have asked for help.