March 9, 2015
  • NPO Save the Beach
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten and NPO Save the Beach to Start
Hands-on Sports Program
for Children in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture

- Event to be held at the Soma Kids Dome, an indoor sports facility,
with the goal of providing exercise opportunities to children -

Tokyo, March 9, 2015 – Rakuten, Inc. and NPO Save the Beach today announced the launch of “Challenge Forever in Soma”*1, a hands-on sports program aimed at children residing in Fukushima Prefecture at the Soma Kids Dome*2 indoor sports facility.

Challenge Forever in Soma is a hands-on program held at the Soma Kids Dome that aims to convey to children the joy of sports by having top athletes in a variety of different sports provide them with direct instruction. For the first round of the program, a hands-on event in which children can try volleyball, trampoline, and learn life-saving techniques will be held on March 14, 2015. On that day, approximately 120 elementary school students from Fukushima Prefecture are planned to take part in the event. Top athletes Koichi Nishimura, a professional beach volleyball player and the director of Save the Beach, Kaoru Sugayama, a professional beach volleyball player, Daisuke Nakata, a professional trampoline athlete, and Seiji Iinuma, a professional life saver, will provide practical instruction to the children.

Since 2010, Save the Beach has been training a volleyball team made up of children with intellectual disabilities. Playing sports as part of this helped the children feel emotionally balanced and enriched, so the organization has been looking for ways to offer such hands-on experiences with sports to a larger number of children. At the same time, Rakuten had been considering holding an indoor, hands-on sports program for children by using the Soma Kids Dome. This facility was donated to Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture in December 2014 by the Indoor Sports Facility Construction Fund, an organization that was established through the primary leadership of Rakuten Baseball, Inc., which manages the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Given this backdrop, both organizations, which had been examining how to provide opportunities for children to enjoy sport, together decided to hold the Challenge Forever in Soma at the Soma Kids Dome.

In addition, this program will receive support from more than 20 local enterprises for each of its events, and through the coordination of Bridge for Fukushima, a student volunteer organization is also scheduled to take part. Save the Beach and Rakuten will continue to provide opportunities for children to experience various different sports in a hands-on manner in the future by receiving instruction from top athletes at the Soma Kids Dome as part of this program. It is hoped that the program will assist children in cultivating a sense of self-reliance and strengthening their powers of expression, as well as in forming a vision for the future.

Overview of Challenge Forever in Soma

■Date for the first event: Saturday, March 14, 2015, from 10:00 to 12:30
■Venue: Soma Kids Dome
4-2-5 Koyo, Soma-shi, Fukushima-ken, 976-0005 (in the parking lot for the Soma Koyo Softball Field)
■Main sponsor: Save the Beach
■Co-sponsor: Rakuten, Inc.
■Program for the day of the event (scheduled):
(1) Opening ceremony
   Main sponsor: Koichi Nishimura, Director of Save the Beach, an incorporated NPO
   Guest: Hidekiyo Tachiya, Mayor of Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture
・Outline of the day’s program
・Introduction to the instructors
・Addresses by the instructors: Koichi Nishimura, Kaoru Sugayama, Daisuke Nakata, Seiji Iinuma
・Demonstrations by the instructors (trampoline jumping, artificial respiration, volleyball) (scheduled)
(2) Sports instruction for children
   30 minute session will be held for volleyball, life-saving techniques, and trampoline
(3) Question and answer session
(4) Closing ceremony
 ・General comments from the instructors
 ・Commemorative photo
 ・Farewell to the children and visitors

*1 Challenge Forever: This is a project that supports children with intellectual disabilities in Nagasaki Prefecture through sports. The project is run by Koichi Nishimura, a former volleyball player and Japan national squad member. He plans to relocate to Soma City and continue with these activities because of the completion of the Soma Kids Dome.

*2 The Soma Kids Dome came about out of a desire by the Indoor Sports Facility Construction Fund, an organization that was established through the primary leadership of Rakuten Baseball, Inc., to create a venue where children can safely experience the joy of baseball and other sports in an effort to assist with the reconstruction and restoration of Fukushima. Fundraising activities began in March 2014, with nearly 20,000 contributions having been received from around the country. The facility was then completed in December 2014. Our hope is that this facility will become a place that can serve as a symbol for the local region by mobilizing the efforts of everyone who loves Fukushima and whose sympathies are drawn there. This is designed to foster the mental and physical health of the children who have had fewer opportunities to play outdoors in a carefree manner since the earthquake.

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

  • Month
  • Year
  • Category
  • Month
  • Year
  • Category