When the little kids at Niles' Japanese preschool heard about the earthquake, tsunami and other crises facing their homeland, they didn't fully understand the events. But they got the idea people needed help, and they wanted to help.
"They wanted to give (victims) their jackets, and give them massages--stuff kids would think about," said Fumi Koike, a teacher at
At first, the events frightened the kids, who live in surrounding suburbs and But the three- to six-year-olds soon developed sympathy for the victims, Koike said. Some of them made piggy banks, and they help their parents by doing household chores or by giving them massages, and bank the money for relief efforts.
Minori Yamaki, the school's director, organized the kids' desire to help into a concert Sunday at Mitsuwa Marketplace, a large Japanese grocery store, food court and mall in Arlington Heights.
Parents will arrive at about 10 a.m. to organize the collecting of donations, and the kids will sing and perform a dance at 11:30 a.m.
"I told the kids they're little, but if they get together, great things can happen. They can use their talents to reach out to people," Yamaki said.
She wants to encourage their instincts to help those in need.
"It's important to teach kids to be loving and help their neighbors. This gives them a chance to contribute to society," she added.
The month of March brings graduation for most schools in Japan, and the St. Matthew's preschool will hold its own graduation Friday. School resumes in April.
The fact that many students of all ages in Japan will not have a graduation this month, because their schools were destroyed or damaged, is weighing on the minds of those at the school, Yamaki said.
"So my kids said, 'Let's sing a graduation song for them,'" she said. "So that's what they're going to do, both on Friday and Sunday."
If You Go: Plan to arrive at Mitsuwa Marketplace, at the northeast corner of Arlington Heights Road and Algonquin Road, Arlington Heights, by 11:15 a.m. Sunday, March 20.