June 8, 2020

Shine On! Kids launches in-hospital virtual English communications program in response to COVID-19 restrictions

Shine On! Kids, a Japanese government certified NPO, is launching a virtual English communications support program at Kanagawa Children’s Medical Center (KCMC). Through a generous grant by Bank of America and in partnership with students at The American School in Japan (ASIJ), this program aims to provide connectivity, engagement, and educational opportunities for children currently in hospital. Shine On! Kids President and co-founder, Kimberly Forsythe says, “We are proud that, as an organization, we are able to assess changing needs of our hospitals and patients quickly, and respond flexibly to create a high-impact program with the support of our corporate partners and community.”

Since 2006, Shine On! Kids has been providing support to children with cancer and other serious illnesses throughout Japan through evidence-based, psychosocial support programs. Currently active in 22 hospitals across the country, their core programs include: Japan’s first full-time Hospital Facility Dog program, an innovative arts-in-medicine supportive care program called Beads of Courage®, and Camp Courage for Survivors, which provides post-treatment support for adolescent and young adult cancer survivors.

Children with cancer and other serious illnesses are used to isolation from their community. However, with the current COVID-19 restrictions, these young patients are being challenged on a new level and experiencing a sudden deepening of isolation in their day-to-day lives: limited time with their parents, suspension of in-hospital volunteer activities and new policies forbidding home visits.

In response to these unprecedented circumstances Shine On! Kids has launched a virtual English support program that will provide technology and interactive English content to children hospitalized at KCMC. Shine On! Kids has donated technology devices (tablet devices, projectors and screens, etc) to KCMC and has been working closely with both the hospital and bilingual international high school students at ASIJ to develop meaningful and engaging virtual activities.

The Director of Kanagawa Children’s Medical Center, Yasufumi Itani, expressed his thanks to Shine On! Kids, “The smiles of the children who are hospitalized during the restrictions on visits and overnight stays under the countermeasures against the new coronavirus infection are so appreciated. I am grateful that this program brings smiles back to the children’s faces. Please tell the volunteers how grateful we are for their help.”

Some activities include:

  • Live, bilingual music events with a variety of musicians/talents
  • Live reading to Shine On! Kids Hospital Facility Dogs in training
  • Live BINGO with Shine! On! Kids Hospital Facility Dogs in training
  • Art, photography and other live bilingual workshops

Aaron Alcodray, Coordinator of Personalized Learning at The American School in Japan notes, “I’m so happy to hear that Shine On! Kids continues to expand their support and services in these times of need. It’s been a pleasure working with the students through ASIJ’s IMPACT Program, and helping develop their project and capacity for addressing real-world problems. Their enthusiasm for creating connections and providing learning opportunities between both ASIJ and the children in Tokyo hospitals has been nothing short of amazing.”

After it’s debut at KCMC,there are plans to roll out the English support program to other hospitals through the summer.

For more information on Shine On! Kids and our programs please contact us at info@sokids.org.