Shine a Light on ADN’s Project: Junior Champions in Osaka Have Been Working on Avoiding Tsunami Deaths since 2013

Shine a Light on ADN’s Project: Junior Champions in Osaka Have Been Working on Avoiding Tsunami Deaths since 2013

By Hideyuki Shiroshita

On the 12th of December 2023, Hama’s Junior Champions finished filming two films to reduce avoidable deaths from tsunamis. 59 Junior Champions those who are 5th-grade pupils of Hama Elementary school in Izumiotsu, Osaka Prefecture where ADN launched their global campaign ‘International Awareness Day for Avoidable Deaths (IAD4AD) on 13 March 2023 have been making the films since July. This academic year, the Junior Champions were separated into two groups, and each group was developing a film to raise residents’ awareness of tsunami risk and to facilitate their preparedness against tsunamis in particular immediate evacuation.

The city faced two considerably different damage estimations prepared by the Osaka Prefectural Government. One estimation accounted for more than 2,000 casualties due to the future Nankai tsunami, the other one assessed that no one would die due to the tsunami. The difference in the estimation of deaths was based on one which was the residents’ level of awareness on how to escape from tsunamis. If the residents were aware of the tsunami risk and escaped immediately after the earthquake, no one would be swept away by the tsunami. However, if the level of awareness of escape from the tsunami was low – the estimation presumed that only 20% of people needed to evacuate immediately after the earthquake in this case – more than 2,000 people would die.

The Junior Champions intended to raise the level of evacuation awareness through the films they were filming. They started their project in July 2023 and initially learned how to write a good scenario based on a three-act structure which is widely used in Hollywood. They considered the balance between transmitting a disaster risk reduction (DRR) -related message and the amusingness of the story as films usually do not transmit the message directly but imply the message throughout the film.

The Junior Champions and students from Dr Hideyuki Shiroshita’s laboratory collaboratively composed the scenario of the films. The one group’s scenario is that the central character lost a friend who had not talked to each other when they fought a few years ago due to the tsunami of the Nankai earthquake. However, it was a dream. Then she realises the importance of her friends and makes up with them.

Figure 1: A page of Scenario on the pupil’s tablet

The other group’s story is that although a girl falls in love with the transfer boy student who is a central character, her feelings for him turn cold due to small things. But then the Nankai earthquake tsunami occurred, and he protected her, so she reconsidered.

In October they auditioned to select the main role, supporting roles characters, etc. Filming started immediately after the audition with learning how to use a professional camera and a special microphone. The filming took place not only in a classroom but also in the real evacuation site where they evacuate when they have a tsunami.

Although the edit of the films has not been completed yet, even the short video shot of the pupils’ performance moved people’s hearts. Teachers said ‘I almost cried when I watched the video as their act is earnest.’

It has already been planned that the films will be unveiled on the 11th of January 2024 when the pupils welcome the international guests from Yunlin County, Taiwan. The guests are teachers and pupils, so the ADN Junior Champions will provide a school tour and have an exchange programme. They will also invite parents, guardians, and residents to screen their films.

Figure 2: Taking a shot in an evacuation site in the city

From the DRR education perspective, one of the crucial points to expanding DRR activities is widening the entrance to the DRR field i.e. diversifying the approaches to DRR activities. In this regard, it can be said that Hama Elementary School’s Junior Champions contributed to the DRR for the city in the way that widened the entrance to invite more people to the DRR fields.

Author’s bio: Dr Hideyuki Shiroshita is the Founding President of ADN and an Associate Professor at Kansai University’s Graduate School and Faculty of Societal Safety Sciences in Japan.

The activities of ADN Junior Champions at Hama Elementary School can be found through this link.

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