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~ Social Welfare Corporation Kaze no Mori ~ Male Parent Community “Team Papa
Bring smiles to children’s faces! Enrich Dad’s life!

 The Tokyo Metropolitan Government presents the Tokyo Women’s Career Advancement Awards to companies and organizations that promote the advancement of women.
 The 2021 Grand Prize winner in the medical and welfare field went to the Kaze no Mori social welfare corporation. One of the reasons for the award was the “promotion of men’s participation in childcare through “Team Papa,” a community of male parents” at a kindergarten operated by the group corporation.

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Team Dad Event(Photo: Courtesy of Kugayama Kindergarten, Nogami Gakuen School Corporation)

 Kugayama Kindergarten’s male parent community, “Team Papa,” has planned and organized numerous events, ranging from seasonal events such as summer festivals to large-scale events such as tuna demolition shows and snow games using eight tons of snow.
We spoke with Miki Nogami, who runs the kindergarten, about “Team Papa.

Miki NogamiMiki Nogami, who runs the social welfare corporation Kaze no Mori and the school corporation Nogami Gakuen

What is “Team Papa”?

– Team Papa’s efforts were also recognized in the Women’s Activity Promotion Awards.

Ms. Nogami: At daycare centers and kindergartens, a community of mothers naturally forms, but we felt that it is difficult to build a community among fathers without a chance to do so. So our director invited fathers to participate in child-rearing events. We started with a small event with a few dads participating at first. The event was well received, and as more and more fathers participated, the name “Team Papa” was given to the event. Although the park created the initial impetus for the event, now the dads are involved on their own initiative. 15 years have passed since the establishment of “Team Papa” in 2007, and we currently have about 60 participants and hold 4 to 5 events a year. We recently held a summer festival event that was a great success, with 530 participants, including parents and children. I believe that these “Team Papa” efforts are leading to the formation of a community and the participation of men in child-rearing.

Tuna demolition show and 8-ton snow play Dad’s thoughts on the event

– There are many unique events such as tuna demolition shows and other large-scale events such as snow play using large amounts of snow!

Nogami: In terms of scale and frequency, I have not heard of dads doing so many events, even in the kindergarten industry. The idea of “I want my children to experience something like this! The appeal of this dynamic event is the ability of the fathers to make the unfeasible possible through their desire to “let their children experience something like this! Moreover, they keep the participation fee to around 500 yen per person. Also, on the days of planning and preparation, the school yard is open to the public, and the fathers bring their children to play, so the mothers are happy that they can have some time to themselves.

Even dads need companionship!

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Dads’ Voices How did you get involved with “Team Dad”?

…He was a transferee and didn’t know anyone around. I didn’t know any of my dad’s acquaintances.
I just moved to the area and have no friends or associates in the community.
I wanted horizontal connections outside of the workplace.
My wife was busy with work and it was difficult for her to join the mom community.
I wanted to organize children’s events myself.
– It seems that many people attend in search of connections.

Nogami: Recently, more and more fathers are dropping off and picking up their children, and I feel that men are becoming more active in participating in childcare. Along with this increase, there is a corresponding increase in the number of fathers with childcare concerns, and it seems that people are attracted to a community where fathers can have conversations with other fathers.
 There are also concerns that are unique to your area, such as how to apply for elementary school or what lessons to take. At work, children are of different ages and live in different areas. I think there is a high need to make friends and connections in the community.

Team Dad Event(Photo: Courtesy of Kugayama Kindergarten, Nogami Gakuen School Corporation)

Enriching Dad’s Life, Too! Interaction and a new place to stay that continues after graduation

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Dads’ Voices What are your favorite things about being a member of “Team Dad”?

It is like a cultural festival for adults. I am more than happy to see the smiling faces of children enjoying themselves. The beer after the event is over is exceptional.
Joining “Team Dad” has enriched my life.
I have made lifelong friends, including parents and their children, and I have been able to visit with them.
It gives me peace of mind to know that I can get advice from parents who are a year older than me when I have any problems.
After joining “Team Papa” and meeting his friends, he decided he wanted to continue living in Kugayama forever and bought a house.
-It seems that many of the dads who have joined “Team Dad” have made positive changes in their own lives and become more connected as members of the community.

Nogami: “Team Papa” has been able to build a very good relationship because everyone is aware of the importance of raising the children of the community together.
 Furthermore, the relationship continues as friends who can keep in touch with each other long after their children have graduated from preschool, and I believe that this leads to an increase in one’s own “place” in the community. One of the participants said that he bought a house after meeting his friends in “Team Papa,” and I believe that the existence of such a community contributes to the revitalization of the community.
 As an operator of the park, I would like to continue to support its activities. I would be very happy if the lives of the fathers themselves can be enriched by making lifelong friends through “Team Papa.

Take the first step!

– I know many places don’t have a parent community like “Team Dad.” What is your message to dads?

Nogami: I would like many fathers to know that the existence of a dad community makes life more colorful and rich. If such a community does not exist at your child’s preschool, you can try participating in local parent-child events or, first of all, simply talking to other parents in a positive manner when you drop off and pick up your child.
 There must be times when only dads can understand dads’ problems. Please be courageous and take the first step. Taking any one action will be a catalyst and will lead to a richer everyday life. I hope you will cherish the connections your children have made with you.