Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is proud to support organizations and initiatives that make a difference in our community. In line with their goal of helping youth realise their full potential, RBC is proud to partner with Bridge for Smile, an NPO that provides invaluable support to more than 1700 foster children every year.

Many of us go from adolescence to adulthood without much thought about how we get there. We expect to move out of our family home into a place of our own, find a job and confidently navigate the aspects of daily life such as finances and healthcare. For young people living in foster care, however, the transition to independent living can be a daunting and even overwhelming prospect. These children must learn to live on their own without the support of their parents. Many of them are also dealing with childhood trauma of various kinds.

In 2004, Keiko Hayashi recognized the severe situation that children aging out of foster care were facing and wanted to help. She established the youth charity Bridge for Smile to help these vulnerable young people successfully move from foster care into adulthood. From humble beginnings, Bridge for Smile has evolved into a valuable support service for youths aged between 12 and 18 in foster care and those leaving care, with the key objective being to nurture self-reliance. Bridge for Smile’s services have grown to include internships and seminars for youths in care, support for care-leavers dealing with mental and financial instability, consulting, and assistance with tasks such as securing welfare. 

 The organization’s flagship project, called Leaving the Nest, benefits around two hundred youths annually, and is open to group homes in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area.

This year Leaving the Nest will include a series of six one-day seminars for 200 foster children supported by almost 160 volunteers. Coming from varying age groups and occupations, the volunteers use their life experience to help foster kids broaden their horizons before they leave their respective nests. The project also serves as an entry point for Bridge for Smile to establish support services for children leaving foster care, such as a mentoring program and emergency responses.


RBC Race For The Kids 

Bridge for Smile relies on community support to fund activities such as the Leaving the Nest project, and that’s where Royal Bank of Canada comes in. Supporting the communities in which they live and work binds employees of Canada’s largest bank together. Their support takes many forms, including donations of goods and services, employee volunteering and fundraising. RBC’s flagship event supporting children and youth globally is a series of family fun runs collectively called RBC Race for the Kids.

Starting as a single event in New York in 2009, RBC Race for the Kids has grown to include seventeen in-person races held around the world. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the series of in-person races had to be cancelled. RBC pivoted to a global, virtual RBC Race for the Kids to unite participants all around the world to continue to raise much-needed funds for their charity partners and the youths they support. This move enabled RBC to bring the event to Tokyo and partner with local charity organization Bridge for Smile. 

After the success of two virtual events, RBC is again bringing RBC Race for the Kids to Tokyo to raise much-needed funds that will support Bridge for Smile’s Leaving the Nest project. Registration is open to everyone and participation is free. Runners can choose their own routes and run at any time that suits them. In fact, participants can run, walk or roll their way along their route, making it easy for even families with small children to be part of the action. The only requirement is that participants do their thing over the weekend of October 22-23.

This event is a great way to keep the family active and give back to the community. Many participants have commented on how even their young children have signed up for and run the 5K route and have wanted to continue raising funds even after the event is over.

To find out more or to register, please visit rbcraceforthekids.com. To learn more about Bridge for Smile and the great work they do supporting youth in care and those ageing out of the foster care system, please visit https://www.b4s.jp/en/. Any help you can provide to give these young people a running start is appreciated.


Caption: Participants in the 2021 RBC Race for the Kids Tokyo

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