Welfare Atelier Aichi
2000winners contribution to society
Designs and builds aids for people with disabilities, on an individual basis, that take into account the degree of their disability
Welfare Atelier Aichi

Founded: January 2000

Award summary

This group devises and manufactures appliances to help the disabled. The diverse membership of 48 people includes welders, metal workers, carpenters, and home helpers. Together they come up with contrivances in answer to requests, and only charge for materials and transport costs.The idea for the group came from its chairman, Genju Kato. Kato lost all five fingers on his right hand at the age of 58 when he caught them in a machine. Making use of his know-how, the former lathe operator fashioned an appliance that enabled him to use chopsticks. As other disabled people got to hear of this, they approached him with requests of their own. Since then, the group has devised some 60 different types of device. By making ownership of ideas common to all, Mr. Kato hopes to groom successors and in this way contribute to the group's growth and development.

Reasons for this award

In the midst of the IT era, this is a unique group activity that takes advantage of a special Japanese characteristic, that of being good at making things. The work of manufacturing devices that help the disabled make use of their abilities is something that an individual can only take so far, and the selection committee wished to show its appreciation of the spirit of all those members who came forward in answer to Mr. Kato's call to form a group.

Comments from the winner

We're volunteering our technical know-how. We provide our skills at no cost, and charge only for materials and transport costs, otherwise our efforts would grind to a halt. We have never turned down a request, and have completed everything we have been asked to do. Because we make things that don't exist anywhere else, we get many visitors from other parts of the country coming to see us at work. We intend to continue so that we can enrich the lives of even more disabled people.