Eye Protection Day with Mr. Kuriyama and his guide dog Angie
Every year on October 10, eye protection day at CGK International School, we tell children about the visually impaired and guide dogs.
This year, Mr. Kuriyama, who works at a special needs school for the blind and is himself visually impaired and lives with a guide dog, came to our preschool to give a lesson.
Since the guide dogs are "at work" when they are out, as a preliminary study, we introduced them and told the students what they should not do to guide dogs: "Do not talk to them or shout," "Do not show them food," and "Do not touch them."
Since animals rarely come into CGK, we were worried about how they would react, but the students kept their promise and quietly welcomed Mr. Kuriyama and his guide dog, Angie.
As for the overall school lesson, our staff asked Mr. Kuriyama questions to deepen our understanding of guide dogs, about visual impairment, giving instructions to guide dogs using English words, and what guide dogs can do (how they can help).
Meanwhile, Angie was quietly waiting at Mr. Kuriyama's feet. Angie is very good at waiting.
When I asked the students which of them was better at sitting quietly and waiting, their backs straightened up.
After the questions, Mr. Kuriyama, who is also a singer-songwriter, sang a song for the students. The song he sang was "Real Victory," an athlete support song for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, written by Mr. Kuriyama. In fact, this song was one that the students had practiced beforehand during their Japanese time. However, we had not told the students who was singing the song, so when Mr. Kuriyama started singing while playing the guitar, the students began to buzz, and since we had promised not to sing loudly in front of the guide dogs, they sang along in a quiet voice. After singing one phrase, the students were even more excited when they learned that "Real Victory" was written by Mr. Kuriyama, and told them that they could sing it louder the second time.
After that, a representative from the Sky Class (5-year-old class) led Mr. Kuriyama to the Sky Class, and it was time for questions from the Sky Class. "Do you cook?" "How do you get on the train?" "How do you pay for things?" "How do you move?" "How do you wash your face?" and "How do you sleep?" Mr. Kuriyama answered with a laugh, "I am the same as everyone else, there is no special way to wash my face or sleep. Among the answers to various questions, he also told us that there is one thing that guide dogs do not listen to. That is, when you say "Go" at a red light, they don't go forward. This is the most difficult thing to teach a guide dog. Even so, it is truly amazing that in just three months of training, a guide dog is able to guide a visually impaired person safely.
After hearing many stories from Mr. Kuriyama, I realized that just because I am blind does not mean that I will not be able to do things. "You can do it once you get used to it." Mr. Kuriyama said with a smile, but I think he must have gone through unimaginable hardships before he got used to it. Even so, the fact that he was able to do more and interact with the students as he did this time and tell them about himself was a valuable experience for the students. However, instead of just leaving them alone because they could do so much, we ask, "Is there anything I can help you with?" they were happy to hear from you. I hope that this lesson will help the students to have a kind heart to talk to not only their friends but also to anyone who is in need somewhere. We also hope that this lesson will encourage them to think about a society in which everyone can live comfortably and safely.
Guest: Mr. Ryuta Kuriyama with a guide dog Angie. A blind artist. He became totally blind at the age of 11 due to an illness.
Since 2001, he has been teaching acupuncture, moxibustion, and manual therapy as well as all other medical-related subjects as a staff member of Yokohama Municipal Special Needs School for the Blind after graduating from the Physical Therapy Teacher Training Institute of Tsukuba University.
Reiko - Preschool Principal (Japan)
Opening member of CGK International School since its opening in 2016 and current Preschool Principal. Certified nursery teacher (hoikushi).
After working at a Japanese preschool, went to Victoria, Canada to study abroad. After returning to Japan, worked as the head of an international preschool. A big Disney lover.