Why do you support Mirai no Mori? vol.11 with Mai Ichihara

Series #11 with Mai Ichihara, a care worker

As Mirai no Mori celebrates its 10th anniversary, we have been interviewing our supporters from various fields to share their “voices” with you. As valued partners who have walked together with us, they share their encounters with Mirai no Mori and the reasons for their continued support in these interviews.

This interview features Mai Ichihara, who works at a children’s home that has been joining Mirai no Mori for many years and has sent many high school students to our LIT program.

She not only participates in our programs, but also works as a contact person for children to participate, handling the administrative aspects that are inevitably required for participation, such as handling transportation expenses, preparing participant lists, and recruiting children.

Ms. Ichihara, who is already busy with her daily duties and still makes every effort to enable children to join in Mirai no Mori activities, shared her experience with Mirai no Mori.

Please tell us about how you came to work at a care home.

When I was a university student, I interned at nursery schools and kindergartens where I had a chance to observe graduation ceremony and Parents’ Day rehearsals. These experiences made me wonder “What will happen to these children after graduation?”

Another reason was that, there was a parent-child activity event during my second nursery school internship, and the children, who were usually attached to the teachers, showed no interest in the teachers on the day of the event. Seeing children calling out for their mothers made me realize the limitations of what teachers at nursery schools and kindergartens can do for children.

I chose to work at a children’s care home because I would be able to see the children go on to elementary school, junior high school, and high school after graduating from kindergarten and nursery school, and expand the scope of support I could provide to them.

Tell us about the appeal of working as a care worker.

What I find fulfilling is being able to watch the growth of the children. The smallest child when I started working at Harukaen became a 4th-grade elementary school student this year, and I am happy to see her learn math and kanji.

I also feel rewarded when the children ask me for advice. Because we live together and have been together for a long time, I have become someone to whom they can turn to for advice.

What was the first impression of Mirai no Mori?

I had the impression that Mirai no Mori was a very bright and lively place. The staff members welcomed me into their circle, allowing me to enjoy myself from the first time I participated.

What part of Mirai no Mori is different from other events offered by supporters?

The good point of Mirai no Mori is that it offers continuous events. If it is just a one-time event, it will end up being just “fun,” but offering the children several events to participate in allows the children to think, “Let’s go again next time,” or “Let’s try this next time.” I believe another attraction of Mirai no Mori is that the staff members pay close attention to the children and think about what they can do for the children.

What do you think of our core concepts “continuous” and “experiential learning”?

The continuous events deepen the relationship and create an environment where children, including graduates, can ask for advice from the staff. The children living in care homes do not have many people they can talk to, and I am grateful that the staff members can be one of them.

Also, experiential outdoor activities, such as camping, snow, and rafting, are essential for the children’s growth.

What do you think about our core tools “outdoors” “diversity” and “role models”?

I believe that outdoor experiences expose children to a variety of things. Nowadays, children spend most of their time indoors, so they have fewer opportunities to experience the outdoors and nature. However, through outdoor experiences, children can smile in a way we don’t see in the care home, and they can make new discoveries. As for diversity and role models, I believe that children have the opportunity to make new discoveries by coming into contact with a variety of ideas and adults.

Do you have any special message for Mirai no Mori’s 10th anniversary? 

Congratulations on your 10th anniversary. At first, we wondered what kind of place Mirai no Mori was, but now many children want to participate repeatedly because they know what Mirai no Mori is. Its programs have brought out in them the desire to challenge themselves again and to try new things. I hope to continue to watch over the children’s growth while facing challenges together.

At Mirai no Mori, we believe that there is great significance in children’s continued participation in our programs. In order to continue to provide a safe place for children to learn and grow, we need your continued support.
We invite you to join the Mirai no Mori community as a monthly supporter so that together we can continue to provide children with opportunities to gain life skills.

We look forward to you joining us as a monthly supporter so that we can continue to help as many children as possible to grow happily, fruitfully, and independently.

Series #1 with Rob Williams, co-founder of Knights in White Lycra

Series #2 with Reina, Mirai no Mori program graduate

Series #3 with Dave Paddock, co-founder of Mirai no Mori & president of English Adventure

Series #4 with Akiko Suzuki, from English Hiking

Series #5 with Daigo Shibata, from Mitake Race Rafting

Series #6 with Kappy, Mirai no Mori program graduate

Series #7 with Daisuke Itami, a care worker

Series #8 with Kazuya Miki, from Mori-to-Odoru