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HoAMa Youth Summer Program

Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili

Paʻauilo, Hawaiʻi

Grades 1-5 and 6-8

Summer 2022

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"Your program had a GREAT impact on our daughter. She loved it and she loved her Kumu and all the keiki in it. I loved how she was so excited to get up and go to her program daily. It was impressive because she was not like this for her regular kula." -makua


The term “hōʻama” means “to begin to mature or ripen,” like adolescents reaching maturity. Drawing upon this term, our HoAMa Youth Summer Program seeks to nurture the growth of young people in our Hāmākua community (ages 5-13), as they mature cultivating abundance in their lives and in the lives of their ʻohana & community through education, aloha and kuleana.

The HoAMa Youth Summer Program, seeks to create a safe learning environment for our keiki to cultivate strong relationships and support networks with peers, mentors, and ʻohana, to support their success in school, at home, and in our communities. We believe that healthy keiki thrive when they are rooted in strong, healthy ʻohana, communities, and ʻāina (land). As such, our HoAMa Youth Summer Program will engage our keiki and their ʻohana in hands-on learning through ʻāina-based education, including community gardening, arts and crafts, storytelling through mele (song) and hula, lessons with local kūpuna (elders), huakaʻi (excursions), and much more.

ʻĀina-based education

A huge advantage of holding the program within Paʻauilo is the ability for us to visit the spaces that our hui occupies. Our program was able to visit spaces in Koholālele, Kaluaolono, and Kahua, engaging participants in place-based learning and activities.

Inland at Kahua, we learn the names of our spaces. We talk of the inherited abundance of maiʻa through the name Paʻauilo and share in the foods and plants that now grow in these spaces. In that learning, we also learn to remove weeds and to sustainably gather resources for food, kaula, and dyes. Kahua provides the opportunity to create food to feed the community, involving participants in the nourishment of themselves, their ʻohana, and the extended community beyond the hui.

Towards the seascape, Koholālele provides space for not only work, but also storytelling. In visiting the boundaries of our space at Kalepahāpuʻu and Lepelau, we learned the valued stories of our spaces from times past. Within these boundaries, we create new stories and spaces for planting and weeding, cultivating the food for tomorrow. Within the same area, Kaluaolono offers the opportunity for participants to see new spaces, creating foundations in spaces to flourish.

Arts and crafts

ʻapu, konane, konane bags, dyes

Throughout the program we have at least one kind of art project for the keiki to engage in that weaves in the key elements of what they are learning.  This summer the keiki worked on making ʻapu, konane, konane bags, and natural dyes.  ʻApu provide endless ʻApu-tunities.  For one ʻapu take a ton of time to sand down which requires patience and perseverance.  Two, each ʻapu shape, color and size is different so as the keiki are working through rendering a smooth surface they gain an appreciation for uniqueness and differences and see that it is an awesome thing to embrace.  And lastly ʻapu provide an example of a tradition of our kupuna that they can see as connected to and not separate from what they are capable of continuing to use today.  The ʻapu in our hālau are used for many things, like a vessel for drinking water, carrying food, and filling with seeds.

Each keiki made a konane which are made with tea towels dyed in natural plant materials we source from our mala and farm.  This summer we used opuu or maiʻa flower which rendered a beautiful purple color.  Once the konane tea towels were dried we had each keiki use the paʻau or maiʻa trunk to create a stamp.  The stamp was used to create the grid for the konane.  The keiki had so much fun and were able to learn how to play konane.  The most beautiful thing about the konane project is that each keiki often goes home to play with their ohana.  We always hear back from the families that if it werenʻt for their keiki they would have never known about konane.  And in that moment the keiki in the program become the mini kumu for their ohana.

Storytelling through mele (song) and hula

Protocol is instilled in our practices, and therefore a big component of learning for our keiki. They first learn the oli komo, Mele Kāhea no HoAMa, which announces the group to whatever space we are entering. This oli states our intention to grow, learn, and provide energy to the different places we visit, including the hālau space which hosts our program.

We also learned a mele, Kuʻu Lei Hala, and the hula that accompanies. This mele takes participants on a journey throughout Hawaiʻi mokupuni, highlighting each moku in a circuit back to Hāmākua, ka ʻāina o koʻu mau mākua, the land of our relatives. Through this mele, we visit the winds of Kona, the lua pele of Kaʻū, and the aho loa of Hilo.

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