What we do
Bridge for Smile (B4S) helps children to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to live independently after leaving children’s homes
Founded in 2004, Bridge for Smile (B4S) is a not-for-profit organization specialized in helping those children and adolescence in Japan who have grown up in children’s homes to leave the homes and live independently. Each year we touch the lives of nearly 100 adolescents. B4S seeks to create an environment where children feel happy and loved for their brilliant futures, and helps them to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to live independently after leaving children’s homes.
At B4S we provide various programs for teenagers living in children’s homes and adolescents who have left the homes and are living by themselves.
To illustrate what we do, below are two of our main programs. The purpose of our programs is to provide social skills, knowledge, self-confidence, friendship, and mentors for them so that these teenagers become ready to leave children’s homes and go out into the world. We also would like them to have a sense of security that we are always here to help them when needed.
Sudachi (leaving the nest) Project
This is a series of seminars designed for high school seniors living in children’s homes to prepare them for leaving their homes. It provides them not only knowledge and social skills but also opportunities to get to know teenagers with similar background.
At the seminars, trained volunteers support the sudachi participants throughout their learning process. Usually, approximately one volunteer per participant (or more) is present. At children’s homes, caregivers are always busy taking care of younger ones (the ratio of caregivers to children in homes is on average 1 to 18). Thus having such close attention from an adult volunteer is an impressive experience for many participants. Such an environment makes the learning even more effective.
Who We Support
17 to 18 year old high school seniors who are to leave children’s homes.
- A monthly seminar series (6 seminars in 6 months) on communication skills, job hunting and mock interviews, apartment hunting, social services, household budgeting, cooking and nutrition, safe-sex, stress management, etc.
- Special gifts based on attendance: We give out home appliances, computers, formal dresses, ties and sport jackets, furniture, and kitchenware necessary for starting to live on their own. (These gifts are donated by individuals and corporations.)
- Sudachi hand book “60 hints for you, leaving children’s home to the outside world”. This book compiled by B4S covers the social skills and knowledge necessary for starting to live on their own. We acknowledge that only 6 seminars are not enough for them to learn all the necessary skills and information, so this book is designed for them to refer to whenever needed.
Atomo (after leaving the nest) Project
Another key program is “Atomo” (after leaving the nest) Project. This is a casual network of those who have left the children’s homes so they can get together regularly for BBQs, parties, seminars, and other fun activities to maintain friendships. It also provides opportunities for these adolescents to feel they always have someone to talk to when they face any difficulties at work, in the community, or in any other environment. We also provide a mentoring program where a trained volunteer is assigned to a participant. The pair meets monthly simply to relax, share feelings, and consult on any issues the adolescents have in mind.
Who We Support
Adolescents who have left children’s home
- Various networking events, e.g., seminars, parties, BBQ, hiking, karaoke, etc.
- One-to-one mentoring program for those who are interested