…by teaching them how to make things and then use that experience if and when it becomes necessary.

Hyodori-dai Bosai Fukushi Community Chairperson: Kikuharu Hayashi, Advisor: Shigenori Moritani, Bosai Junior Team: Yuesuke Fukui 3rd grade junior high, Haruka Okamura 2nd grade junor highTalk 1Hayashi: Hyodori-dai housing estate is about 34 years old and has a population of about 10,000. The Bosai Fukushi Community (Bokomi) was founded in winter 7 years ago and is the second oldest in Kobe. The Bosai junior team composed of children from elementary school 4~6th grades and junior high school was founded in summer 7 years ago with 45 members at that time. This year there are 161. Yusuke Fukui entered the team in junior high after teacher and friends suggested he should, and Haruka Okamura entered when she was in 4th grade elementary school.


The chairperson when the Bokomi was founded thought it was important to get children involved and got the cooperation of the schools, PTA, community and local government. That’s how the junior team got started. The first disaster prevention drills the children took part in was at the post-earthquake housing Silver Heights. Only 5 elderly people turned up, but after the junior team and their parents called on the elderly residents, 100 came out and cooperated well with the children in the drills. It showed us the important influence children have. Every year on the Sunday nearest January 17, the day the earthquake happened, the whole community takes part in our annual disaster prevention drills. Of course, the junior team joins in and supports the activities.


Fukui: I have taken part in these drills 3 times. We do first-aid drills and firefighting drills.Hayashi: Firefighting equipment is stored in the community and the team fetches it and goes in to action under the supervision and instruction of local volunteer fire brigades.Okamura: I found the hose heavy and difficult to control because of the water pressure. The most impressive part of the drills was when smoke screens were set up and it seemed the neighborhood was on fire and then sirens could be heard and fire engines and fire brigade arrived. It was all so real.


Moritani: Although disaster and fire drills are important for children, they alone are not enough. It is important for them to be able to do things for themselves and to make things. For example we taught them to use wooden materials as levers to move heavy objects to rescue people. We also teach them how to make wooden structures can withstand earthquakes. When a disaster occurs there is often nothing left, so children must be able to think of how to use what they have at hand. This is the kind of advisor I am.


photoTalk 2Fukui: Although we, 3rd year students are quite busy, junior team members have meetings once a month, but twice in August because we help out at the summer festival.


The festival gives the children a chance to get involved in the community and give the activities more life. The junior high brass band plays the melodies of Hyodori-dai origianl traditional Bon dance songs. Hyodori-dai junior high school has 172 students, 156 are members of the junior team. With so many students we need to cooperation with the school PTA and community.


Okamura: I joined was because I have a bigger brother and sister who were members. They seemed to have fun, so I wanted to join the team. In fact, it is even more fun than I had expected.Fukui: Because older people are involved in the activities, we children get to know them and greet them and other older people when we meet them in the neighborhood.


Hayashi: I think the Hyodori-dai junior team activities have a big role in this. The junior team also gets to see fire brigade drills and they during the year they also get training in similar drills. The team has a number of activities during the year. We accept new members every year and have a naming ceremony each June. There are monthly activities and in July, members had a chance to experience what an earthquake is like, also what a smoke-filled building is like and had emergence phone call drills. They also listened to people’s experience of the earthquake.


Last year we introduced lifesaving drills for water accidents using the local pool. One person plays the role of a drowning person, the other the life saver.In September we have regular drills; firefighting and study workshops. The year’s schedule is basically fixed with activities on the second Saturday of each month. On average about 30 to 40 members attend. Actually, former members have become firefighters.


Moritani: Hyodori-dai has been designated a model aging community by Kobe city. And it is important to get the young members of the community involved in disaster prevention and mitigation. We do this by teaching them how to make things and then use that experience if and when it becomes necessary. We would like the children to be able to do what we couldn’t.


Hayashi: We conduct a survey among the children each March, at the end of the school year. In they tell us what they are concerned about and we have learned they are worried about the decline of the shopping district in the community. So, we adults decided to do something about this. As result of a request from the community, we have begun a new activity since last year, with junior team members checking on old community members who were earthquake victims as the go to and from school etc. It is nothing great, but it is important.