When he started the home care clinic, Hiroyuki Beniya initiated an innovation in Japan: the Kids Lab day care, based on the six dimensions of Positive Health, for children who require a large amount of medical attention. These are children who, if they were in the Netherlands, would be admitted to a children’s hospice (nikutrecht.nl).
Hiroyuki Beniya’s concept is not only to give such children a place to stay other than in a hospital or their own home, but also to enable their parents to go back to work, if they so wished. Kids Lab was first started as a summer holiday programme in Karuizawa, one of the oldest summer resorts of Japan. The area is surrounded by woods and close to mountains, and the children, some of whom in wheelchairs, with ventilators and other heavy equipment, were very happy in the summer programme. In April of 2020, the Hotch Lodge at Karuizawa was founded. This day care and cultural centre is based on the concept of Positive Health. It combines medical care (outpatient medical care, house calls, day care for children with medical needs), welfare (day centre for the elderly), culture (original theatre performances and art shows by interns), food (home-grown and prepared on location) and education (cooperation with kindergarten/elementary school Kazakoshi Gakuen). Across the street from the Hotch Lodge is Kazakoshi Gakuen School, which officially opened its doors in April 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is probably the most innovative school in Japan, at this moment, focusing on individual students, rather than forcing a system on them. The Positive Health spider web Children’s tool was used to perform a health check on the elementary schoolchildren, and care providers had a lengthy talk with each of the children. Later, while they were taking body measurements, one child said ‘While I was filling out the spiderweb, I realised that I’m a pretty happy kid!’ Another said: ‘My foot hurts, but I can do everything I want to do, so it’s all right.’ One did say: ‘Something sad has happened. Would you listen to my story another time?’
In this way, what would normally be a passive mandatory school health check-up for these children, now became a lively occasion that excited curiosity about their body and its inner workings.
Due to Covid, the planned training in Japan in 2021 didn’t take place. New and more initiatives will follow soon.