Every year the MHI Group carries out a "Matching Gift" program under which money collected by employees in the "Tomoshibi [Lamplight] Fund" campaign operated by the Head Office and Yokohama District Headquarters of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Workers' Union is matched by the Company to be donated to worthy causes. This year again, the collective sum was used to purchase shape-memory spoons and forks—for donation to 21 social welfare facilities in the Kanto, Kansai and Tohoku regions.
The handles of the donated utensils are made using a shape-memory polymer developed by MHI that makes them malleable when immersed in water heated to more than 70℃. The resulting pliability enables the shape to change, for easy gripping by the user. For people who have difficulty eating on their own because of handicaps such as weak grasping power or disability in moving their hands or shoulders, attempting to use eating utensils unsuited to their needs can be difficult and can also lower their quality of life. For these reasons, shape-memory eating utensils are eagerly welcomed.
On May 23 a visit was paid to one of the facilities receiving this year's donations: the Koganei Children's Development Support Center "Kirari" in Tokyo's suburbs. Every day the facility is attended by preschool children with developmental disabilities. Here, they receive appropriate support to enable them to acquire the skills necessary to everyday life. Support is tailored to the lifestyle needs of each specific child.
The person in charge of "Kirari" said that among those who attend the facility are children who are unable to use their fingers as they might wish. "But since the donated eating utensils are malleable," she added, "the children find them easy to use, enabling them to enjoy their meals." A representative from the Tokyo Metropolitan Social Welfare Council, who took part in the visit, noted that shape-memory eating utensils are still needed at many facilities, and he expressed hope that MHI will continue to cooperate through its donations. MHI is committed to continuing these activities in the future.
Going forward, the MHI Group will continue to proactively engage in social contribution activities reflecting its CSR Action Guidelines to "Care for the planet," "Create a more harmonious society," and "Inspire the future."