Empowering Young Hearts: Stories behind the scenes of the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka
As the curtains fall on the World Aquatics Championships, the spotlight shifts to the heartwarming initiatives that quietly unfolded behind the grand spectacle. Among these endeavours, a special focus was placed on the extraordinary experiences gifted to local children. Dozens of young students from elementary schools in the city of Fukuoka became part of a remarkable journey, participating in exclusive spectator and backstage tours of the championships.
At the forefront of these efforts was the “Children’s Third Place” initiative—a beacon of hope designed to establish havens of tranquillity for children facing challenging circumstances. In this endeavour, children from two bases in the Kyushu region were granted the opportunity to attend the World Aquatics Championships.
At the vibrant venue of the World Aquatics Championships held in Fukuoka, a spectacle of pure passion was on display. Unlike the Tokyo 2020 Games, which took place without spectators, the children’s animated eyes and spirited cheers painted a vivid scene. Families, avid supporters, and school groups were all part of the enthusiastic audience that witnessed top-tier athletes demonstrating unwavering dedication.
However, a particular programme captured attention, shedding light on a pressing social issue. Even within Japan’s mature society, the “experience gap” among children remains an issue of paramount concern. It’s evident that not all children have equal access to various activities due to disparities in their home environments. Two Kyushu-based centers, out of a total of 173 “Children’s Third Place” locations nationwide (as of June 2023), extended an invitation to children who are part of the programme.
Wataru Ninomiya/World Aquatics
Mike Lewis/World Aquatics
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