One year on
FIT spoke with some of last year’s beneficiary charities about how they benefited from the run. And here is what they had to say.
“FIT For Charity Run empowers people to learn about and support their local community, while embracing a healthy lifestyle.”
Place Tokyo aims to foster a community environment for people living with HIV/AIDS by providing direct support, educational activities on prevention, as well as research and training.
Those living with HIV/AIDS in Japan face many challenges – despite the significant improvement in treatment, the majority struggle with severe intolerance. In this environment, since its establishment in 1994, Place Tokyo has worked to empower those living with HIV/AIDS as full members of society. For Place Tokyo, Place in this way stands for Positive Living And Community Empowerment (PLACE).
Place Tokyo is composed of a network of two hundred individuals, who support those living with HIV/AIDS by providing counseling, guidance and shelter. In addition, Place Tokyo researches HIV infection and methods of reducing its spread. Based on this, Place Tokyo works to establish a more comfortable environment for those undergoing examination and treatment, and has produced and circulates an educational pamphlet called the Safer Sex Guide, while also managing three websites on related topics.
Place Tokyo’s Ikushima-san commented, “Japan is intolerant when it comes to HIV/AIDS for two reasons.
First, people believe that HIV/AIDS is an issue for developing countries and, as a result, the reality of increasing HIV infection in Japan goes unrecognized.”
Second, HIV/AIDS is perceived as an issue to be handled by the medical industry, not general society.
Social preconceptions and misunderstandings are made worse by the sexually transmitted nature of the disorder – there is even a tendency to regard infection as the infected persons’ fault.”
He added, “Given this reality, it remains difficult for those living with HIV/AIDS to make their voices heard and stand up for their rights. As a result, our services have been well-received and as demand has increased, Place Tokyo has seen a strain on its resources. The support of FIT For Charity Run 2009 had a substantial positive impact.”
Regarding how the funds were spent, he said, “The donation was used towards Place Tokyo’s relocation, as it had exceeded the capacity of its existing facility. In addition, Place Tokyo is in the planning stage to use the remaining funds to revise its educational materials for reissue in a more contemporary media, such as video.”
Ikushima-san concluded, “FIT For Charity Run empowers people to learn about and support their local community, while embracing a healthy lifestyle. FIT For Charity Run 2009 allowed Place Tokyo to build new connections across the community, and these have grown on through the year, leading to lectures and workshops on HIV/AIDS at FIT For Charity Run member companies. Place Tokyo sincerely hopes to continue to build on this involvement with similar initiatives in the future.”
Place Tokyo, Ikushima-san
Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
“FIT For Charity Run reminded me that the energy we draw from others gives us the strength to live our own lives.”
Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People was established in 1996 as a non-profit organization serving both the hearing impaired and abandoned pets. Through the foundation, abandoned pets are trained as Hearing Dogs, which assist the hearing impaired in living their daily lives – letting them know of sounds of potential significant importance that they would not otherwise hear, such as a fire alarm or crying baby.
The organization lends these dogs to the hearing impaired and provides free aftercare. The dogs themselves are generally secured from special shelters for abandoned pets with strong potential to return to secure homes.
“Hearing Dogs are partners that bring happiness to the hearing impaired, allowing them to overcome physical and social hurdles. In other words, these dogs bring strength, in a way that people are not always able”, said Ms. Moto Arima, from Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
Despite the importance of this support, the cause is far from widely recognized in Japan. Although a certification system was finally introduced in 2003, only fifty Hearing Dogs have been trained locally since 1982.
Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People has from its foundations aimed to inform people of the roles and significance of these dogs.
“In order to properly nurture understanding of their importance, we offer training and lectures, as well as secure the support of similar organizations worldwide”, added Ms. Arima.
Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People saw FIT For Charity Run as an attractive opportunity to make more people aware of Hearing Dogs.
“Needless to say, running a small charity requires a lot of support, and FIT For Charity Run was vital in allowing us to continue our work. In securing a nomination as a beneficiary charity, we were reassured that we are beginning to secure understanding that we do make a difference”, said Ms. Arima.
Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People’s Tokyo office manages training and aftercare, users and supporters, as well as promotional activities. The donations secured from FIT For Charity Run 2009 were used for the maintenance of the office, particularly regarding IT needs. Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People also published an Introduction to Hearing Dogs in Manga (マンガの聴導犬解説書) and the Japan Hearing Dog Pamphlet (日本聴導犬協会の三つ折りパンフレット), which is distributed to people with hearing disorders and relevant organizations. The donations were also used for workshops and demonstrations targeting FIT For Charity Run member companies, as well as organizations for people with hearing disorders.
Ms. Arima was asked to act as a presenter at last year’s awards ceremony, and she commented that she was touched when the dogs appeared on the big screen.
“FIT For Charity Run is a community-focused event that promotes healthy living and philanthropy among Japan’s financial industry. I was energized by the site of the runners taking off from the start line – it reminded me that it is the energy that we draw from others that provides us with the strength to live our own lives.”
Moto Arima, Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People