The TOMODACHI Amway Japan Foundation Tohoku Future Leader Program Concludes with Final Presentations for Nine-Month Program
On September 20, 2019, the final presentations of the TOMODACHI Amway Japan Foundation Tohoku Future Leader Program were held at the Portal Center in Minami Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, gathering 40 attendees, including program participants and their guardians, as well as local residents.
After the study trip to the U.S., participants divided into four groups to create projects focused on tourism in Minami Sanriku. The groups developed their project plans by digging deeply into their initial ideas and discussing ways to improve their daily lives, as well as lessons learned from the study trip.
Each of the four groups’ projects are below:
- Painting seawall: this project will cover the seawall with colorful paintings featuring the town mascot “octopus-kun” and other images based on ideas from local youth, creating a warmer and more welcoming environment.
- Learning about local nature: local youth have no areas to play outside since the Great East Japan Earthquake, giving them few opportunities to enjoy nature. Therefore, this project offers outdoor educational activities allowing youth to enjoy the local nature around them.
- Creating a community sports area: there are few areas or chances for local residents to engage in sports, so this project, inspired by sports facilities in local community centers in the U.S., proposes the creation of community sports areas.
- Touring sightseeing spots: this project outlines a plan to encourage tourists to visit popular local sightseeing spots not only by car, but also on foot.
After the presentations, Ms. Kafuu Toh, Representative Director, Amway Japan Foundation remarked, “I was overwhelmed by the high school students’ ideas and presentations. These were great presentations, with each participant fully harnessing the ‘power of communication,’ one of the leadership skills participants learned.” Later, the mayor of Minami Sanriku Mayor Sato, observed, “All participants were full of a confidence I could not have imagined during the pre-departure orientation in February. ‘Perseverance’ is the keyword. To persevere, you will face many difficult obstacles you will need to overcome. But this will help you grow, so never give up.”
Minami Kamata, one of the participants, said, “Using my experiences during the U.S. trip, I was able to think about the many wonderful aspects of Minami Sanriku-cho, but also how we can improve and use our strengths. We implemented an event for local children to pick up garbage, helping them engage with nature and have fun. Thanks to this program, I have broadened my perspectives.”
Over the eight-month program, participants have rediscovered the charms of their town and strengthened ties between those invested in the revitalization of the region and local people in community. The TOMODACHI Initiative hopes that the experience of creating their own projects to improve their community will contribute to not only the participants’ personal growth, but also the future of their hometown.
This program is generously supported by the Amway Japan Foundation, with support from Minami Sanriku-cho and the Minami Sanriku-cho Tourism Association.