Story Massage for Japanese Children

Many of you will know about the involvement of the Story Massage team with Cocoro, a Japanese charity providing long-term aromatherapy and positive touch activities for the adults and children affected by the Japanese tsunami.   Here we write about the benefits of Story Massage for the Japanese children suffering from the aftermath of the tsunami.



Positive Touch Activities for Children, Staff and Parents

We are delighted that the Cocoro team has now become Story Massage Centre of Excellence. Cocoro charity was founded by Japanese aromatherapist, Takiko Ando with support from local social worker, Keiko Sugawara. The charity was set up to offer emotional support for the victims. Mary Atkinson, co-founder of Story Massage is their UK representative.

We first introduced Story Massage for Japanese children in nurseries and kindergartens back in 2012, and it was so uplifting to see the smiles on the faces of the children during a period a trauma and loss. The children were eager to share this simple positive touch activity with their families. We heard that they visited shelters and shared Story Massage with others, making a real difference to the community. Takiko Ando and Keiko Sugawara are both winners of our Best Practice Award for using Story Massage with such beneficial effects for the local children.

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Long-Term Effects of Trauma

As time goes on, children still need help and support to cope with the aftermath of the trauma. However, those children who were 3-5 years old in 2011 need extra help now. Some of the children who were so quiet and well-behaved in the shelters and temporary houses have started to express their more difficult emotions and fears through some quite challenging behaviour.

Tomoyo Nozaki, a Story Massage Instructor and Best Practice Award winner, was one of the team working with the children. She writes: “I had personal experience of the Hansin big earthquake 20 years ago, and whenever I feel any big shake, my body still becomes very stiff and my heartbeat rate increases. I am aware that I have trauma in my body cells’ level. It is very likely that the primary school children who were at nursery when the tsunami hit will have a trauma deep inside. So we are very pleased to be invited to offer positive touch activities for the primary school children at an after-school club. This is a big step forward in the local people acknowledging that positive touch is important for the emotional well-being of the children.”

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Benefits of Story Massage for Japanese Children

Tomoyo writes: “Story Massage is peer massage with children sharing massage one on one or in a line. Words of a story are combined with the benefit of simple massage strokes. At the start of the session, the children ask each other for permission to give massage, and at the end, children say ‘thank you.’ There are many benefits for positive touch for children including showing respect, promoting calming time, increasing concentration and reducing aggressive and challenging behaviour.

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“We did a quiz on the benefits of aromatherapy and the relaxing effects of different aromatherapy oils. Then we did some Story Massage with the children and they loved the warm feeling of combining the words of a story with massage strokes. Everyone was so pleased to see us, and said that it made a real difference to know that we cared about them so much, and to learn new ways of relaxation.”

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“We used the Smiling Flowers Story Massage and also Gull Meets his Friends, which were written especially for the children by Mary Atkinson and Sandra Hooper, co-founders of the Story Massage project. We also encouraged them to write their own stories and we hope this will be a way of helping them to express their feelings. We also had fun sharing Story Massage with each other, and with the parents and staff. Everyone could see the potential benefits.”

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Thank You to Cocoro Supporters

Tomoyo writes” “Cocoro is always so grateful for support from UK and from all over the world through donations and the HeartFelt Project. The local people welcome the charity’s visits and really appreciate all support. Thank you. We were delighted to hear that Mary Atkinson, co-founder of the Story Massage project has won an award for her work as UK representative of Cocoro Charity.” Read more here: Mary wins FHT Excellence in Leadership Award.

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The Smiling Flowers Story Massage

You’ll find a copy of the Smiling Flowers Story Massage on this blog post: The Smiling Flowers  We hope you will enjoy it and share with others.

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