Brandon Takahashi

On the afternoon of August 13th, 2020, an enthusiastic virtual audience experienced music, dance, and magic during the inaugural run of Kokoro no Hashi, a program showcasing the diverse talents of local high school-aged students. Kokoro no Hashi, meaning “Bridge of Hearts,” was created by high school junior Brandon Takahashi to provide virtual entertainment for older adults and cultivate intergenerational connection during these physically-distanced times.

A Behind-the-Forum Look

Brandon became familiar with Keiro through youth leadership programs in the Japanese American community, including his experience with Kizuna and the Rising Stars Program. When he came up with the idea for Kokoro no Hashi, Brandon reached out to Keiro. “I was really lucky that Keiro was there to help me go through the process and launch this program,” he said.

The process of planning the program included contacting and interviewing performers, writing a script, compiling video components, and working with Keiro staff to smooth out event logistics. The team’s preparation paid off on the day of the program with audience members delighting in the interviews and performances by Leo Smith, Kacey Ura, Jared Ura, and Brandon Takahashi himself. One attendee commented, “I was smiling throughout the entire performance – I couldn’t help myself because it was so wonderful!” Another added, “I really enjoyed watching these young people. They are inspiring and so talented.”

Fill My Heart (and Yours) With Song

The program closed with Brandon singing his rendition of Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon. He selected this song in particular because of the way it can make people smile – in addition the fact that he’s a huge Sinatra fan himself. Brandon explained, “Out of all the songs I know, Fly Me to the Moon is more happy and energetic. It brings more life.”

His song choice, as well as Kokoro no Hashi itself, reflects Brandon’s approach to music as a connective force. He described music as a passion that is fueled not only by the happiness it brings him, but the way he can share that experience with others. He mused, “I think that’s the most important thing for me, is that other people are enjoying my music. Music can be used to help people in a lot of ways, whether it’s for therapy, or just singing for your family. Stuff like that, that makes you just enjoy life.”

A Virtual Call to Action

In reflecting on the experience that this program brought to the Keiro community, Brandon emphasized the importance of his generation supporting older adults however they can, but especially through technology. “I’m always calling or texting my friends. I think that when people don’t have that access or that knowledge of technology, it creates even more isolation,” he said, referencing the increased risk for social isolation that older adults often experience. “I think that’s really hard for people.”

Brandon mentioned programs like Kokoro no Hashi as one way to bring support and care to older adults. He also highlighted efforts his friends have been making, such as letter-writing outreach within the Little Tokyo community. “Any form of assuring them, ‘We’re here for you’ – and also knowing that we need them too – is something that’s really important for the community,” he shared.

Kokoro no Hashi attendees left enthusiastic feedback that praised the performers’ talents and requested more events of the like. Luckily for them, Brandon is already planning on expanding the program to include more participants and wider audiences. “After it was all done, I was really happy with how it went,” he said, “and I’m excited to see where it goes in the future.”

To view all upcoming Virtual Keiro Forums, click here.