Health enhancement program for the survivors
The Fukushima Chapter provides the survivors who live in temporary housing or private rental houses rented by the prefectural government with social events such as: Red Cross Nordic Walking and Red Cross Ground Golf Classes. The purpose of the events is to compensate for a lack of exercise, release physical and mental stress, and enhance their health.
Red Cross Nordic Walking
Nordic walking originally started as summer training for cross-country skiing competitors. They went hiking or ran using poles.
Beginners can immediately start playing ground golf, because the rules are very simple.
The Red Cross Nordic Walking program started in FY 2012. At first, many of the participants used the poles awkwardly, but said that they could walk easier once they got used to the poles and they also enjoyed chatting with the other walkers. For ground golf, the Fukushima Chapter has organized classes and also prepared tools to allow the survivors to exercise continuously.
( ) = No. of provisions
|Program||FY 2012||FY 2013||FY 2014||FY 2015*1|
|Red Cross Nordic Walking||(6)||(13)||(5)||(6)|
|Red Cross ground golf class||－||(2)||(4)||－|
|Park golf social event||－||－||－||(3)|
|Part gold class||－||－||－||(1)|
|Ground golf social event||－||－||－||(1)|
*1: In FY 2015, the health enhancement program has been reorganized to the Red Cross sports/recreation social events, which include Red Cross Nordic Walking, walking, parkgolf and ground golf.
As more events were provided, the Fukushima Chapter received more requests for organizing the programs.
In FY 2015, the chapter held a parkgolf communication event between Hirono Town and Naraha Town.
Comments from participants
<Red Cross Nordic Walking>
• ”I am not good at sports, but the other participants helped me in the Nordic Walking program. It was great.”
• ”I felt the Nordic Walking worked the muscles of my whole body more than I expected.”
• The comments varied from person to person. Some felt the distance was appropriate. Others hoped to walk a little longer. Some wanted to try muscle training.
• Many participants hoped that the program would continue.
<Red Cross Ground Golf Class>
• ”I am still living in temporary housing, and I don’t feel well when I don’t regularly exercise. So, I try to enjoy the sports activities provided as much as I can.”
• ”I enjoyed the communication event with the people of Naraha Town. I hope such sporting communication events will be held several times a year.“ (A comment from a participant in the parkgolf communication event)
Comment by Fukushima Chapter staff
To enhance the survivors’ health, the Fukushima Chapter started two programs in FY 2012: (1) community reunion events for the evacuees; and (2) the Red Cross Nordic Walking. In FY 2013, the Red Cross Ground Golf Class was added.
It was about one year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi accident when the programs began. The people who evacuated without any belongings were beginning to move to temporary housing from evacuation centers. They were settling down in their temporary housing. However, they had little communication with the locals in their new locations and many of the survivors often stayed at home. Before the earthquake, they used to enjoy working on farms and their hobbies, but the earthquake deprived them of these pleasures. In this environment, they lacked exercise and had a lot of stress on a daily basis.
In order to help them to start moving their bodies outside of their housing units, we started the Nordic Walking program, which produces less stress on the lower body but is a highly effective exercise. During the program, they walk outside the temporary housing site. Therefore, we expected this would give them more opportunities to communicate with the local people.
The participants feel the effects of the Nordic Walking, but they need poles designed for this sport and it is difficult for them to continue the exercise without these particular poles. That is a concern.
Many people from Futaba County, one of the affected areas, often played ground golf before the earthquake. Some people played in their evacuated locations and therefore we held a Red Cross Ground Golf Class so that they could continue exercising and have more communication with other people. We prepared the necessary tools and arranged a game with a lecture about the rules for the experienced participants and beginners. This was also aimed at preparing an environment where the survivors could continue to exercise. After providing them with the opportunity, they came to independently play games between different teams or established their own clubs. Now, they continue to play ground golf on a daily basis.
Five years after the earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi accident, the evacuees have begun to move to permanent public housing built for the survivors and their lives are being greatly changed. A new problem is reported by the media: isolation of the elderly living in the public housing for the survivors. As we go forward, we feel that we need to re-consider how we should continue to support the survivors. We need to take into consideration not only the survivors who live in temporary housing and private rental housing but also those who are beginning new independent lives.