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Shine On! Kids, an organization dedicated to making life better and brighter for sick children in Japan, is marking its 13th anniversary in 2019. To help us celebrate, you are invited to our Mardi Gras Magic Gala on February 8 at Tokyo American Club.

This year’s theme is sure to deliver an entertaining evening of New Orleans-inspired food, music, and dance. But the true focus of the night is the meaning behind the magic. Enjoy uplifting stories from our wonderful program participants and soul-warming music from New Orleans legend Washboard Chaz while you learn about the healing benefits of our programs that empower, educate, and uplift children dealing with serious illnesses in Japan.

Certified by the Japanese government as a special Nintei nonprofit organization in 2012, the Tyler Foundation—as it was known at the time—was founded in 2006 by long-term Tokyo residents Kim Forsythe and Mark Ferris. The couple was inspired by their happy and courageous son Tyler, who spent much of his short life battling leukemia. After losing Tyler, they realized they could use his struggles and their experience to create something positive for families enduring what they had.

Shine On! Kids has established a range of programs over the years to improve quality of life and support the psychological wellbeing of the children who are fighting illnesses and the family members who care for them. Two core programs to achieve these goals are Beads of Courage® and Facility Dogs.

Now in 20 hospitals across Japan, Beads of Courage® gives children colorful glass beads to commemorate treatment milestones. Each bead tells a story of strength, honor, and hope, and corresponds to a specific aspect of a child’s medical treatment. The program reduces illness-related stress, increases use of positive coping strategies, and restores a sense of self in patients.

Combining the heart-warming, empathetic nature of our furry friends with the skill and expe­rience of a nurse, the Facility Dog program brings an exceptional amount of joy, comfort, and healing to children and their parents. As part of Japan’s first full-time, canine-assisted intervention program at a children’s hospital, our facility dogs visit the rooms of young patients every day with their nurse handler.

Thanks to the success and powerful impact of the program, there is now a waiting list of hospitals requesting facility dog teams. While this news is encouraging and validates Shine On! Kids’ unique “full-time medical care team model,” sourcing dogs with the correct temperament and skills can be challenging.

Shine On! Kids has worked closely with Assistance Dogs of Hawaii (ADH) for the past eight years for the training and placement of all our hospital facility dog teams. However, we recognize that—to be sustainable—the success of the program cannot depend solely on ADH. Ms. Forsythe said: “It’s time for our organization to move to the next level and explore sourcing puppies and training our own facility dog teams here in Japan. We will continue our valued partnership with ADH as they work with us to oversee our processes as we prepare to launch our own training program here in Japan.”

This is a very ambitious goal, but we are very excited about this strategic shift. It does mean that fundraising needs will increase, so community support at this year’s gala is more important than ever. Please consider joining us and make a difference in the lives of children.

Shine On! Kids would like to extend a huge thank you to our very generous, long-term partners who continue to help make our programs a reality and our gala a success—in particular, United Airlines, Inc. for their generous donations of auction prizes this year and Pieroth Japan K.K. for providing all the fabulous wine for the night.

February 8 at 6:00 p.m.
Tokyo American Club  –  ¥30,000/person
Details and tickets: