“No one should be left behind,” is the core message we receive from Jesus Christ. Sacred Heart education has always placed an emphasis on conveying this warm and encouraging message to the students, which contributes to making them feel secure while enhancing their self-esteem. This year, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus fell on June 16th. The Sacred Heart School in Sapporo, Japan held a special program on June 20th to commemorate this feast.
The Japanese government has eased countermeasures against the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing people to return to their normal activities. As for school events, the school in Sapporo is now in the process of getting back to the way things were after a four-year-interval during which every event was moved online. They have resumed the outreach program commemorating the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which included a collaborative event with a school for the blind and visually impaired. It reminded them that nothing can replace the joy of direct human interaction.
Their involvement with Hokkaido Sapporo Special Needs School for the Visually Impaired, which promotes interactions between the Sacred Heart students and the blind and visually impaired, originally started in 1985. The activities, which range from sports events like mountain climbing to online events during the pandemic, have changed with the times. Student council members were especially involved in this project. The school encourages students to enhance their awareness about blind and visually impaired people through social welfare classes. Adjusted for different developmental levels, the social welfare curriculum is multi-faceted, providing students with opportunities to learn braille from a blind teacher and visit a guide dog training facility.
This year, the 12th graders visited Hokkaido Sapporo Special Needs School for the Visually Impaired and spent the whole day together chatting and doing activities like the blind assistance experience. Students donned eye masks to experience walking with assistance. It made them realize that people who are blind or visually impaired use a variety of techniques to navigate safely by themselves or in the company of others. They also enjoyed blind sports such as “goal ball”. These interactions made for unforgettable memories for both sets of students.
Other grades attended a community outreach program, cleaning up nearby parks and picking up trash along the streets. The Sacred Heart School values contributing to the local community and students fully understand the importance of volunteer work. Lifelong volunteer work is key to the longevity of our society. It is important for schools to provide students with as many opportunities as possible to participate in volunteer work, encouraging and engaging with them to volunteer later in their lives as well.
A prayer service, reflection, and sharing followed as part of the feast day. Thanks to their experiences that day, the students made resolutions to help those in need. They also felt that Jesus was close to them and the day reconfirmed that He is always with us.