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【CenterNews】New Learning Program for Adult “Inclusive Communication Academy” starts

On October 26, 2016, The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center announced that with the cooperation of NEC Corporation, it will launch the program, Inclusive Communication Academy, program named “Asuchalle Academy”, an educational program for university students and adults. a instructor with impairment will serve as lecturers at " Asuchalle Academy" and help people learn how to communicate with or conduct oneself around persons with disabilities.

This seminar will be the third “Asuchalle” program following, “Asuchalle School(the visiting school program)” and “Asuchalle Undokai(a company field day with para-sport program)” . The “Asuchalle Academy” seminars will start in Tokyo and Osaka. The goal is to have 1,000 people attend seminars before the end of this fiscal year. By 2020, we hope to have nurtured 100 as new lecturers, and achieve seminar participation by 100,000 people nationwide in Japan.

(Back row, from left) Masaaki Suganuma, NEC Corporate Officer; Yasushi Yamawaki, Chairman, The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center; Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo; and Tamayo Marukawa, Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games (Front row, from left) Toshiya Kakiuchi, advisor to the Paralympic Support Center; Aki Taguchi, Paralympian, member of the Japanese national shooting team in the Athens, Beijing and London Paralympic Games; and Makoto Hirose, Rio Paralympics Judo Silver medalist

Chairman Yasushi Yamawaki of The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center spoke of the aim of creating the academy. He said, “We often hear from people that when they meet disabled persons, they are unsure of how they should communicate with them or how they should offer support. This is because they do not have many opportunities to interact with disabled persons in their daily life. We want to expand the circle of people who can behave naturally in ways that allow disabled persons to feel comfortable. The way to do this is by providing opportunities for non-disabled people to listen to and learn from the disabled persons who are serving as lecturers.”

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Special Advisor to the Paralympic Support Center, also appeared and took the rostrum. She said, “At the Rio Paralympics, I watched boccia, goalball and wheelchair rugby, and I was moved by the vigor and excitement of these para-sports. To ensure that the Tokyo Paralympic Games are a success, we need to start by making sure that events are widely known. That’s why, I’m calling on Tokyo metropolitan government workers to create a boccia team. I, of course, plan to join the team as an athlete. I hope that we can eventually compete with other teams.” She also expressed the expectations she has for the seminars. She said, “We’d also like to accelerate the speed of our preparatory efforts and lead that toward the success of the Paralympic Games. It includes hardware elements, like ramps and slopes to offset changes in levels, but there’re also elements related to people, such as promoting understanding towards disabled persons. In that sense, these seminars are sure to make a major contribution to the Paralympic Movement.”

Meanwhile, Tamayo Marukawa, Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, said, “I see this seminar as being an important program not only for success of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games but also for the formation of legacies to follow. We would like to cooperate closely with the Paralympic Support Center and support this activity.”

Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo

Tamayo Marukawa, Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

The Message from Persons with impairments

Toshiya Kakiuchi, advisor to the Paralympic Support Center, had proposed and supervised the development of the seminar. He followed the governor and minister and provided an outline of the seminar. He added, “It may take time to change hardware elements (such as roads and buildings), but hearts can be easily changed. Disabled persons will utilize their perspectives, experiences and sensibilities to teach people how to interact with disabled persons. We want to change, the ‘we don’t understand, we don’t know and we can’t’ mindset to ‘we understand, we know, and we can.’ We aim to nurture 100 hundred disabled persons to serve as lecturers by 2020. This, also from the perspective of creating more opportunities for disabled persons to shine.”

(From left) Toshiya Kakiuchi, advisor to the Paralympic Support Center, and seminar lecturers Hiromi Kishida, Jun Haraguchi, Yukie Usuba, and Daichi Yamada

The four disabled persons who will be serving as seminar lecturers also appeared and expressed their enthusiasm toward the program. Hiromi Kishida said, “I will utilize my experiences as an individual with an acquired disability and a mother of a child with a learning disability to teach how to interact with various people. Additionally, I would like to communicate the importance of having a flexible stance as well as a little bit of courage. I will do so from three personal perspectives—as a non-disable person, a disabled person, and the mother of a disabled child.”

Jun Haraguchi said, “I am a congenitally blind person and am currently active as a blind football player. I run around the field with my fellow players, who also have visual impairments, and listen to the sighted guide. When I follow the guide’s directions and succeed in making a goal, the surge of emotion that I feel is irreplaceable. My hope is that the seminar will trigger the development of a cooperative society that works together, regardless of disability.”

Yukie Usuba said, “I lost my hearing in my mid-thirties. I live each day experiencing inconveniences. I would like to utilize my personal experience to teach people about guest service etiquette, how to interact with disabled and elderly persons and other topics.”

Daichi Yamada said, “I have a congenital bone abnormality called achondrogenesis, and I’m 130 cm tall. That’s the same height as Doraemon. These short arms and legs are my weapon that I use in my sales work to become close and connected to my customers. Behind this has been experiences that taught me the importance of making a continual effort to try things. I would like to do my best so that this can be communicated to other people.”

The Actual Experiences of Para-Athletes Introduced

The press conference ended with three para-athletes (Makoto Hirose, judo; Aki Taguchi, shooting para sport; and Eri Yamamoto, Paralympic Support Center / para powerlifting) taking the rostrum to discuss communication-related experiences as a disabled person.

In regards to the Rio Paralympics, Ms. Taguchi said, “Through the kindness of the local people, I was able to overcome the inconvenience of not speaking the language.” Mr. Hirose said, “Before we left for Rio, there was a lot of attention being focused on public safety as well as issues related to facilities. However, I was moved by the cheerful and kind demeanor of the people, which more than made up for such problems. I returned to Japan feeling very happy.” Meanwhile, Ms. Yamamoto said, “They knew how to enjoy sports, and I was impressed by the whole mood that got everyone excited, even if they didn’t speak each other’s language.”

The discussion became a good opportunity to express the importance of learning, and for people to get to know about disabilities by having disabled persons speak of their experiences and feelings. And from there, to go a step further and learn how people should communicate with each other—communication between disabled and non-disabled persons; between disabled persons and other disabled persons; and between non-disabled persons and other non-disabled persons.

Governor Koike used a wheelchair to make the rounds of the Paralympic Support Center joint office

Scenes from the discussion on the theme of para-sports

text&photos by Parasapo
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