General Description of Momiji

"Momiji" is the Japan-UK exchange programme for the people with disabilities and people without disabilities

Momiji, means maple leaf in Japanese. The five lobes of the leaf represent the five aims of this organisation which are as follow:
  1. To provide an opportunity for people with special needs and thier young carers to achieve goals together.
  2. To create disability awareness.
  3. To build self-confidence.
  4. To develope a better understanding of Anglo-Japanese cultures and ways of life.
  5. To create a strong bridge between both sides of the globe, new lasting friendships and to provide a memorable educational experience.
Participants of MOMIJI have been selected from the network of Red cross Branches in both countries. However now MOMIJI became an independent charity.

we would choose by advertising and recommendations from proffesionals from the public. Most of these people are in their mid to late teens and have never been abroad.

The young people with special needs from those with sight or hearing impediments to those with severe conditions such as spainl-bifida or cerebralpalsy, terminal illness and are often wheel-chair bound.

It is hoped that by giving them the opportunity to travel to the other side ofthe world and experienceing a significantly different way of life, it will enable them to build their self-confidence and to feel a sense of fulfilment.

Once they are selected, they are paired with a responsible, skillful and sensible young ablebodied person of about same age. (ie. Helpful member of the Red Cross.) who are to be their carers for a particular trip. These young carers are able to consolidate thieir skill whilst experiencing the similarities as well as the differences between the cultures of Japan and the UK.

The duration of a MOMIJI trip and programme will be planned depending on the disability of the participants.

In the past, we have exchanged 175 young people in 12 years and have taken part in the Red Cross Sponsored Walk, The Japanese Red Cross Youth 75th Anniversary, Kamakura ( an ancient Japanese city) historical Walk, Sportsdays coincide Japan 2002 in Hyde Park, Concert at Windsir castle, Automatic Wheel-chair succar matches in the Uk and Japan, meetings and discussions with people in similar situations as well as cultural and fun visits such as visiting SUMO ( tradisional Japanese Soprts) stables, The world cup succar stadium in Yokohama, Disneyland Japan or Legoland UK.

The average cost per person for one trip is around 2,500 pounds including return flight.

Around 14 people are selected. (5 special needs, 5 carers, 1 Doctor, 1 nurse, 2 adult leader/coordinator and self payed/ M. Kidani)

The aim of MOMIJI is not only to provide an unique opportunity for these people to travel, but also for them to take this experience further and to study or to work in the country which they visited.

For example, there is a young man from York who has been completely blind from age of 10. He went to Japan when he was 16 with MOMIJI in 1992. Ahter the trip he graduated York University, has obtain MA and has been in Nagano Prefecture High School in Japan for 3 years as an assistant English teacher with the Japanese Government scheme called JET. He is now preparing to get in to KEIO University, Tokyo for PhD coursefrom coming spring.

Tow special needs have married happily, one has qualified as a nurse and most of them are working hard in order to establish their independent lives.

Momiji is fully supported by the respective National Red cross in both UK and Japan, the Empress of Japan, various influencial Anglo-Japanese organisations such as Nippon Club London, Japan Society and individuals such as many previous and present Ambassadors to london and Tokyo with their wives.

In March 2002 MOMIJI received a Commendation from the Minister for Foreign Affairs Japan. In it, says "Through your tireless efforts to promote mutual understanding between Japan and UK, you have made a highly distinguished contribution to friendship Japan and Britain. In expressing my profound respect for your achievement, I hereby present you with this Commendation."

I shall be very grateful to you if you would be able to support young people of Momiji.