Tokyo, 18 Oct 2015
Michiko Shima became a volunteer with Special Olympics Nippon Tokyo (SONT) after she was invited by a friend to attend one of its table tennis practice sessions 10 years ago. Since then she has provided pro bono accounting services and fundraising support, and has worked directly with the children and adults who benefit from Special Olympics.
Special Olympics works in 170 countries to foster acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
"Special Olympics give people with disability a chance to have social contact when otherwise they may be isolated in their own world,” Shima explains. “Their weekly sports activities, the World Championships every 4 years and many of the other social activities they organise give the participants skills, confidence and social interaction."
Shima introduced Macquarie staff in Japan to SONT when she started at Macquarie as an Executive Assistant in 2008.
More recently Shima's support of the organisation has extended to coordinating Macquarie's involvement in SONT’s annual 'Walk and Run Festival', which has been running for as long as Shima has been supporting the organisation.
Teams of four run a lap around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and the team with the closest finish time to their pre-declared time is the winner. In 2015, 150 runners took part, including SONT athletes.
Macquarie has been involved for three years and raised JPY105,000 in the lead up to the 2015 festival, which was double matched by the Macquarie Group Foundation as part of its annual Foundation Week.
Shima's coordination of Macquarie's inclusion in the festival saw three Tokyo-based staff join up with a Special Olympics athlete, Taichi.
"We were teamed up with Taichi and his dream is to travel the world to meet as many people as possible. As part of the Walk and Run Festival he was able to meet his team mates from England, New York and Hawaii. He enjoyed communicating with them so much,” says Shima.
"Each of the staff participants were from different areas of the business, and one in particular has been competing in the event for many years. After his first year of participation it inspired him to get healthy and fit."
Shima also supports other charitable organisations, including relief effort activities in affected communities of the 2011 earthquake in Japan.
Image caption: Macquarie staff member Tak Katayama (right) with Special Olympics athlete, Taichi.