Ibaraki YMCA was just officially established on July 2nd, but its first organized program has been in operation since last year, when the "Tanpopo Kai" ("Dandelion Group") was begun. This group was established to help mentally retarded young adults, for whom no other program has been available. The city has a fine program to help such children and their families, but once a mentally "challenged" child reaches 18, they are no longer eligible for such assistance. Thus, in order to help fill in this gap, the "Tanpopo Kai" was established.
Approximately 15 mentally retarded young adults and their families gather together on Saturdays to enjoy organized sports activities and have fellowship. This helps provide mutual support and helps combat the strong tendency in Japanese society to sort of hide away such persons from the society at large.
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