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Pediatric Massage

By Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT

About the Columnist
Other Articles

Watering the Seed and Watching it Grow

An Update to Nurturing Touch for Japanese Orphans

In July 2012, I shared an article in Massage Today called "Planting the Seed: Nurturing Touch for Japanese Orphans," about the Liddle Kidz Foundation volunteer outreach in Japan after the devastating 2011 earthquake. In March 2011, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan, tearing open the earth and unleashing a 23 foot high wall of water that erased the ground below, destroying everything in its path. Now almost four years later, there are many families homeless and recovering from this event.

"After the big earthquake in 2011, we determined that we must make a bond among families," said Ai Ichii, Director of the Japanese Association of Baby and Childcare. "Even if all disappeared, many people recognized that we still have our family. In such a grave situation, it became the biggest support for many people to feel they could comfort their families through touch."

Through our program, we strive to directly support compassion for others and the belief in the fundamental goodness of people. Our programs provide care for children and their caregivers so that each child has the chance to reach their full potential. Liddle Kidz Foundation certified pediatric massage therapists continue to provide parent education and nurturing touch throughout Japan to support family bonding, healing and trauma recovery.

A Five Year Journey

japanese orphans - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark From my visit to Japan five years ago through today, the impact of infant and pediatric massage therapy has grown immensely. Education, training and certification have been given to therapists and healthcare providers from all over Japan, along with the thousands of children and families that have been directly impacted. "Before Tina came to Japan and taught us the nurturing touch for children with special healthcare needs, there was no chance for those children to receive touch therapy or pediatric massage therapy anywhere," said Ichii. "Now we have therapists trained in infant and pediatric massage in every prefecture all over Japan."

The work has grown from giving workshops, lectures and volunteering in orphanages, to adding pediatric massage program development and regular education and training in leading hospital and healthcare facilities. Over the courses of the past five years, I have had the opportunity train nurses, doctors, physical and occupational therapists, acupuncturists, hospital play specialists/child life specialists and child healthcare advocates from a variety of medical and professional backgrounds. Attendees have traveled from not only all over Japan, but from Dubai, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Brunei and the United States to take part in educational sessions.

Embracing Pediatric Massage

The use of pediatric massage has been introduced by the Liddle Kidz Foundation to the Kokuritsu Seiiku Medical Research Center Hospital, National Center for Child Health and Development, Tokyo National Metropolitan Children's Hospital, Osaka City General Hospital and Medical Center, Nishinomiya Sunago Iryou Fukushi Medical Center, Todaiji Pediatric Hospital and Medical Education Center, Kita Ryuoiku Medical Rehabilitation Center, Kanazawa University Hospital and The Hospital Play Specialists Association of Japan through formal education and training sessions. We are committed to furthering the development of touch therapy services for vulnerable and underserved populations internationally. Through education and support, the Liddle Kidz Foundation works to create replicable and sustainable change.

japanese orphans - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark A Great Honor

During my 2014 visit, I was invited to Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan, and was given a great honor, a ceremonial presentation of 2,000 hand folded origami cranes.

In Japan, the crane symbolizes hope, love, honor and peace. There is a belief that should someone receive 1,000 cranes, they shall be granted their wish or eternal good luck. Often times, this belief is practiced by those fighting cancer, as was the story of Sadako Sasaki of Hiroshima, when she battled Leukemia.

The beautiful and amazing cranes are the gift of children and families fighting cancer of Hanaume – Ishikawa Prefecture Cancer Support House and Kanazawa University Hospital. During the ceremony, we had the honor of presentations from the founders of Hanaume and volunteer ambassadors involved with the project. Following a special, traditional tea ceremony, we visited Kanazawa University Hospital to meet with children who participated in folding cranes, but were too ill to leave the hospital to join the ceremony. It is their wish to send this gift of hope back to the United States.

The Power of Touch

In my previous article, I quoted volunteer therapist, Atsushi Kawashima in regards to the Japanese culture and touch. "Traditionally in Japan, people are not used to physical communication. So, people do not always know how to communicate using massage. Giving and receiving massage is essential for everyone. No matter where you work, or who you work with, physical communication through massage is something everyone needs."

Today, this is true of many Japanese people. Our educational sessions end in hugs and happy tears. There has been a light ignited in Japan that will continue to grow through the power of touch.


Editor's Note: View a mini-documentary of the Liddle Kidz Foundation 2012 orphanage outreach in Japan: www.YouTube.com/LiddleKidz. See Tina's 2012 article.

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