As part of a project to bring the healing power of touch to the children of Rikuzentakata, the area most devastated by the Tsunami in Japan in March 2011, Takiko Ando, founder of Cocoro Charity invited me to help her create a story massage.¬†We are both instructors on the Massage in Schools Programme¬†which teaches the creative use of story massage within their peer massage programme.
The story was written especially for the children of Rikuzentakata and focuses on the healing power of nature as a way of introducing the benefits of massage for children. It was created with the help of several colleagues, then translated into Japanese and approved by local teachers, parents and social workers in the disaster area before it was finally agreed.
Alice Clarke, a talented 17 years old student from Brighton, illustrated the story with simple and colourful drawings that appealed to all ages. Alice had been taught peer massage at her school by Sandra Hooper, one of the UK’s trainers for the programme. She was keen to be involved as she has strong connections with Japan and could understand how the children would benefit.
The massage story was introduced to three kindergartens with children aged 4-6 years old. The teachers and children were excited by the idea of story massage and were keen to take part. Whilst Takiko and I demonstrated the moves, Keiko, the local social worker and local co-ordinator for the charity, read the story and showed the illustrations to the children.
At one school, my husband, Richard, read the words in English whilst Mary demonstrated on a teacher. The children tried to copy the words and learnt to say ‘flower’, ‘rain’ and ‘sun’.
The teachers were delighted by the response of the children who said that it felt good, and that they felt lovely and warm. Each kindergarten was presented with a laminated story book and DVD of the massage moves in the hope that the benefits would continue for many years to come.
In a recent report, Keiko, the local social worker, said she felt that it had been a healing experience for everyone and that the children and teachers were continuing to enjoy the story massage, making their own creative adaptations, and sharing it with their families.
Free copy of Cocoro story massage
If you’d like a copy of the creative story massage ‘Smiling Flowers’ please contact me¬†¬†(Mary Atkinson)
Sharing our experiences of working with victims of the Tsunami
In April 2012, my husband and I travelled to Rikuzentakata to work with Cocoro Charity bringing healing touch to the victims of the tsunami through a Positive Touch for Children programme. You can read more on the blog feature¬†Our Experiences of Volunteering in a Tsunami Disaster Area.
We are also happy to share our experiences and photographs with local groups. All proceeds will be donated to Cocoro Charity to help maintain their important work. We are already booked at several events including local holistic therapy support groups, W.I. groups, St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Chichester, and the Japan Society in Petersfield.¬†Please¬†contact Mary Atkinson¬†if you would like to arrange this.
Positive Touch for Children Day Course
Mary runs an FHT accredited day course¬†Positive Touch for Children¬†which explores and encourages gentle and appropriate massage for children, including creative story massage, in the family home.