Every year 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 approximately 800 shape-memory spoons and forks(Note) that were donated to 33 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 thereby lower their quality of life. For these reasons, shape-memory eating utensils are eagerly welcomed.
On December 3 a visit was paid to one of the facilities receiving this year's donations: The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Tokyo's Kids Garden. The facility is attended by preschool children with developmental disabilities. Here, they receive appropriate support to help them acquire the skills necessary in everyday life before starting primary school.
The person in charge of Kids Garden said that during childhood children eat an increasing variety of foods, and learning to eat on one's own is very important during the child's growth years. In this respect, she said, having easy-to-use eating utensils is of great aid. The occupational therapist working at Kids Garden stated that mastering use of a spoon and fork is necessary for enabling Japanese children to learn how to eat with chopsticks, and she said the donated utensils are perfect for practicing. A representative from the Tokyo Metropolitan Social Welfare Council, who was present during 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, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 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."
- The "Will Assist" lineup manufactured by Aoyoshi Co., Ltd. (Tsubame City, Niigata Pref.)