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Real Beauty


Recently I got the opportunity to watch some students show off their athletic skills at Sakura Machi Elementary School's Sports Festival, in the center of Nagasaki City, Japan. They ran 50 metres, 100 metres races and even siblings participated in in one game where each family was given fishing lines to hook a bag full of treasures.

However, the highlight of the day were the eight special needs children who were allowed to particpate in all activities with their peers. Their teachers assisted them in competing in all the races and dances as everyone cheered them on. My soul was filled with joy as I witnessed love, equality and justice.




LauraB's picture



I loved hearing your description of the children competing and your soul filled with joy.
Witnessing equality and justice and then recognizing it when it's alive brings more into the've spread that joy wider now!



JaniceW's picture


Anette, it warmed my heart when I read that the special needs children participated in the activities. As a Special Olympics coach, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for children and adults with disabilities but this story particularly touched me as during my time in Japan, people with disabilities were hidden from society. This was in the late 1980s but I remember even then, how they were shunned and few allowances were made to accommodate them. In fact, even those in wheelchairs could not navigate Tokyo on the most basic level i.e. elevator doorways were too narrow, curbs were not cut, etc..

So, I join you in the joy you gained from witnessing this unifying event and applaud your school for being so inclusive. Not only does it welcome the special needs children but emphasizes acceptance to the other children.

Anette Leslie's picture

Special needs children

I'm really surprised about that Janice. They have really come along way. There are so much facilites in place now for people with special needs, especially in Nagasaki City. There are braille blocks on the curb and at stop lights for the blind, and there are announcements whenever the light changes. Even on the buses there are removable seats near the door to accomodate a wheelchair and it was my first culture shock experience when I arrived here to have seen a driver got out, rolled out a ramp, folded the chairs inside the bus and took on a wheelchair passenger. He was even equipped with chains(or something of the sort) to keep it secured to the vehicle while he was driving. At most shopping malls/public places there are wide bathrooms with rails to accommodate people with special needs. I think this is widespread.

These students were not at the school where I teach but I've heard from several ALTs that they have students with disabilities at some schools with other students. It doesn't happen at every school but when there are sveral students in one area, the facilities are created at a central school for them (especially at the elementary level).


aliĝngix's picture

Seeing it

Thanks for such a nice description of your day. Usually I only see Sports Day only in amines, but how you describe it gives it real depth. Thanks for sharing, and have a nice day!
Did you participate in any of the activities or...?
See you around!

Anette Leslie's picture

You're welcome

I was invited to this school so I didn't participate, I just watched. However, I usually particpate during the sports festival at the school where I teach. I really felt like I was out on the field though, there was so much enegy and I was sitting at ringside.

Take care.


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