SUPPORTERS

Supporting Brighter Futures: Kaneko Building Maintenance’s Compassionate Journey with Children with Disabilities

Kaneko Building Maintenance Co., Ltd.
Representative director
Mr. Ryota Kaneko

“I’m the one receiving support and strength. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to provide practical help,” says Ryota Kaneko of Kaneko Building Maintenance, who was among the first to volunteer as a “Supporter for Children with Disabilities,” with a genuine smile.

“Supporter for Children with Disabilities” is a program initiated by our company under the “Team☆Challenged” initiative. Companies register for a fee of 20,000 yen and provide monthly support of 5,000 yen. In return, we introduce their products and services to parents, fostering a mutually beneficial and ongoing support relationship.

Kaneko Building Maintenance specializes in comprehensive building management. The typical “benefits as a supporter company” don’t apply to them. So, what motivates them to enthusiastically become a supporter?

Through our interview, we discovered Ryota Kaneko’s sincere, warm, and kind-hearted intentions, perfectly reflected in his smile. Please take a look.

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Kaneko Building Maintenance Co., Ltd.

Established in 1979 and based in Kanda, Tokyo, Kaneko Building Maintenance Co., Ltd. specializes in the cleaning and repair of high-rise building windows and exterior walls. The company is committed to maintaining safe and comfortable building environments, offering comprehensive support to extend the longevity of buildings.

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──Can you share with us your first impressions when hearing about “Team☆Challenged”

When I first learned about “Team☆Challenged,” I was deeply moved. I have known Mrs. Uchiki, the representative, through work for about four years. Initially, we began handling house cleaning through a trusted referral. Currently, Mrs. Uchiki is our only private client, as we often have to decline even building cleaning projects due to high demand.

Working with Mrs. Uchiki has always been a learning experience. During one of our conversations, she introduced me to “Team☆Challenged.”

My honest reaction was that this initiative is powerful. A child with disabilities is often viewed as a disadvantage. Many parents might feel they need to forgo extracurricular activities for their other children because their disabled child requires more attention. Typically, there is no perception that a disability could have positive aspects.

But Mrs. Uchiki is truly remarkable. She not only openly discusses disabilities but also connects them to future possibilities. She has this incredible ability to transform challenges into opportunities, creating something entirely new. I found that truly inspiring.

──What made you decide to become a supporter?

Before hearing about the opportunity, I was in a state of wanting to do something, but what can I do? When I learned about the supporter program, I thought, “Thank you for giving me such a chance.”

Currently, I am fortunate enough to run my own company and have children. As I began thinking about my daughter’s future, I also started considering what I could do for the future of all children and Japan. I realized that I might be able to contribute and make a difference.

This doesn’t feel like a donation. In the long run, we’re the ones receiving the power. We gain a sense of strength from knowing, “I am able to support someone!” I feel like we are getting so much in return for a small monthly amount. It’s not about helping others; it’s about being part of something bigger.

──What inspired your wonderful perspective?

People are often influenced by their environment, and in my case, my wife has been a significant influence. She is a kindergarten teacher and actively engages with children with disabilities. She has a family who believes that “disability is a pure form of individuality,” so it was easy for me to adopt this mindset as well.

I also believe that disabilities are not a burden but rather a pure form of expression without any filters. When they’re upset, they cry, and when they’re happy, they laugh wholeheartedly. It’s okay if they can’t verbalize their feelings and express their frustration by running around. It’s up to us to see this as a form of expression rather than a negative aspect.

──Your wife’s beliefs and your daughter’s birth have significantly influenced your actions, haven’t they?

Absolutely. My mindset has drastically changed over the past two to three years. While my core values remain the same, my family often jokes that “the old dad is gone.” I am now in version 2.0.

──Really? How have you changed?

Everything about me has changed, from my expressions to my behavior and overall way of life. I used to avoid going home after work and barely interacted with my daughter when she was a baby. Looking back, I realize how different I was.

I have a knack for appearing friendly, so people outside my family haven’t noticed the change, but I certainly feel it. If I had heard about this five years ago, I might not have done anything. On the other hand, maybe hearing about it would have sparked a change back then.

──It’s interesting how life can change at certain moments. Was there a specific trigger for your change?

I realized one day that I wasn’t speaking my own words and was completely conforming to others’ answers. I began to wonder, “What is my true self?” This realization prompted gradual changes.

As I mentioned earlier, I started thinking about my daughter’s future. Before that, the word “future” would just draw a blank in my mind. As a business owner, I’m supposed to look two to three years ahead, but I couldn’t see anything.

──Now that you’re in version 2.0, what kind of future do you envision?

Since I’ve only been able to think about the future for the past two to three years, I still have a lot to figure out. But I hope for a “warm society.”

I believe that changing one’s perspective can change the world. For instance, if there is a barrier for people with disabilities, it should be possible to change that. By becoming a supporter, I can proudly say, “I am thinking about the future and I am a responsible father.”

I hope that by getting involved, even in small ways, I can change someone else’s perspective or interpretation. That would make me incredibly happy.

──Indeed, if your intentions are well communicated, a lot can change.

There are definitely people who want to support others. However, spreading important and necessary things in society is challenging. We have to keep moving forward, or the “walls” will reappear in an instant.

It should be a given that people with disabilities help build society together and that supporting them is also a given. For example, becoming a supporter seems like a natural thing to do for me.

──Could you share a message for those who also want to make a difference?

Becoming a supporter has given me the opportunity to speak passionately and to say that “I am supporting someone.” This feeling becomes a source of energy and a reason for living. I am incredibly grateful for this and feel nothing but appreciation.

I believe there are definitely others who think similarly!

Because I have a catchy appearance, I want to do anything I can to help. But in the end, it’s not about giving; it’s about receiving so much in return.

=== A word from Miki Uchiki, CEO of Hanahiraku ===

I first met Mr. Kaneko when I hired him to clean my house and since then, we have met at least once a year. I mentioned our “disabled kid models” business and the recent “Team☆Challenged” initiative. However, I never imagined that he would become a support sponsor and that we would have such a wonderful interview.

Listening to Mr. Kaneko’s story, I was moved to tears.

Since starting this job, I have had many opportunities to realize the kindness of people. I’ve felt Mr. Kaneko’s warmth, too. I believe that because my son was born with a disability, I have become kinder and more aware of the kindness around me.

We will continue to widely recruit support sponsors. Whether you are like Mr. Kaneko and simply want to support or have products or services you want disabled children to use, please feel free to contact us.

Interview and text by Kaori Kidoue

 

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