June 19, 2006

Fathers day

I'm a member of a team of truly excellent motorcycle safety riding instructors.
We travel throughout the TOHOKU area teaching kids how to ride bikes.
Now before you start screaming that motorbikes are dangerous and that children have no business riding them please continue to read about the program.
While we teach kids how to SAFELY handle these machines the real focus is to bring children and their parents together.
The fathers do most of the work. They follow our program and listen to our comments but they are the ones who spend the entire day pushing the motorcycles around, then showing their kids how to start the engines, and how to accelerate and brake, and how to turn. We set up the course and support the parents and make sure that the whole thing runs smoothly and without incident. This program was originally started by the four major motorcycle manufacturers in Japan, but was soon adopted by the ministry of education as a way to develop better relationships between parents and instill confidence among young children.
Imagine these kids at school on Monday telling their friends that they rode a motorcycle over the weekend.
I've been doing this for over five years and I never get tired of it. Watching children, who are often nervous and sometimes scared at the beginning of the day, transform into confident riders operating their own bikes without any assistance from their parents is a real treat. Seeing the smile on the face of a kid after starting up a bike without any help from mom or dad is worth all the effort we put into the day.
We'll be going to Misawa in two weeks to do it all again. It's one of my favorite places 'cause there are always a couple of Gaijin dads and I get to speak and teach in English.

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