When we were little, our stuffed animals served as fluffy confidantes.
They sat with us at our tea parties, they stayed close at night to fend off bad dreams, and they comforted us when we were sick. What they didn't typically do, however, is teach us important lessons that would ultimately stick with us for a lifetime.
But one Japanese organization aims to change all that. Second Life Toys allows parents to send their kids' damaged stuffed animals in for "transplants" to teach them about the beauty of organ donation.
While thousands of people are registered organ donors in the States, the issue gets little attention in Japan.
There are quite a few reasons why Japanese people have mixed feelings about organ donation. For one, belief systems in Japan dictate that bodies should be whole upon cremation, which understandably discourages them from registering.
Along with that, the 1968 Juro Wada case, which involved harvesting organs from a braindead patient at a point when the determination of brain-based death was still hotly contested, embedded an association between organ donation and unethical activity deeply into the cultural consciousness.
Representatives from Second Life Toys believe that they can flip the script on this pressing issue by teaching kids the importance of organ donation at a young age.
Their program walks little ones through the process in a way that they can understand. Here's how it works.
A parent sends photos of their child's damaged toy to the company, and upon approval, they mail the stuffed animal in for "surgery." Using parts from donated toys that look much different than the rest of the recipient, they repair the defect and mail it home.
And the program works the other way, too! Those who choose to donate unused toys receive letters from the company explaining how their toys were used to save stuffed animals in need.
Their goal is to help young people develop positive attitudes toward organ donation.
For more information about the initiative, check this out!
The best way to make change is to work from the ground up. After all, children are the ones who will build a better future someday. If you want to learn more about this project, be sure to check out the company's website.