Specified Non-profit Corporation Suginami Izumi Ⅱ
“Bookmark”(a bookmark made of felt ball) and “Mokemoke” (a unique mascot) are one of the products from equalto.
Specified NPO organization Izumi（Suginami Izumi Ⅱ) produces those equalto products. equalto team interviewed a staff from Izumi, Mr. Watanabe, about daily life and people working there.
What is the history of Izumi?
Mr. Watanabe : The person who had a child with disability started a studio “Te to Te” about 20 years ago “to provide a place for people with disability(PwD) to do some activities during daily life”. He used to teach weaving works mainly at that time. The studio was integrated into a work place in Suginami and incorporated later. Since then, they have been working on the idea that “they accept anybody ”.
How about daily activities?
Mr. Watanabe: About 15 PwDs living around Suginami area come to work at Izumi every day. Producing various own goods using quilted clothes, dyeing, weaving and felt ball are their main work here. We also have order receiving operations such as park cleaning and towel folding. Some service users(*) were labeled as “unabled”, at the same time, consider themselves as “no need to do anything”. However, there are a lot of things thay can do. The more things they find what they can do, the more self-confidence they gradually gain. So that, we are keeping in mind to create the environment where they can give it a try.
*Service users = People with disabilities who come to Izumi.
equalto team staff: You’re thoughtful of widening their possibilities as much as possible.
Any special actions that only Izumi takes by their own? Any features of that specific actions?
Mr. Watanabe: As I mentioned previously, we always keep in mind to enhance their independence. For example, service users can pass all the process of making felt ball until inspection of the last. There are processes like putting hot water and detergent, not only simple shaking process to adjust shape. They learned these processes little by little by doing together with supporting members. Sometimes, they help each other among service users, rather than learning from supporting members. Service users have made up the relationship of “mutual assistance” through daily life and work.
Service users, who used to be taken care of by someone before, now improve themselves by taking care of other service users.
equalto staff: Not only focusing on the independence but also on the mutual assistance and helping each other. Any other features of Izumi?
Mr. Watanabe: We are making an effort to expand the market of our products to be known well at any places such as private and public shops. Since products sold at those shops require higher standard, we needed to think more about various elements such as design and quality. That was huge effort.
equalto staff: Why did you think about expanding the market even huge effort required?
Mr. Watanabe: Our target is “to raise the wage of PwDs and to achieve social recognition PwDs as the labor force”. This is the reason why we put effort to make our market bigger.
Our staff members used to do sales and marketing activities before. However, we need to focus on production activity from now on, since we don’t have many resources. Even we sometimes still encounter difficulties in terms of specification and standard, some retailers feedback us like “products from Izumi is high quality”. This circumstance would result in service users’ economic independence.
While their products are distributed into the market, service users gradually would gain self-confidence and satisfaction Their guardians are also very happy that the products are sold in general distribution. we keep working hard for them!
Lastly, may I know your outlook for the future?
Mr. Watanabe: I want more people to know about that quality of our products are good, and want PwDs in the welfare facilities to expand the possibilities. Specifically, we aim to prepare the environment that service users of Izumi can work as taxpayers. We hope that currently working PwDs in Izumi are recognized as labor force from the society, and would like to take much more responsibility to support people with severe disabilities.
equalto staff: Thank you very much. I heard that Izumi organize products exhibition once or twice a year. It would be great more people would visit the exhibition.