Big Island Robotics Team Wins Sportsmanship Award at 2017 Pan Pacific VEX Championships

Na Paniolo, a robotics team from Kohala High, took home the Sportsmanship Award at the 2017 Pan Pacific VEX Robotics Championship.

Na Paniolo, a robotics team from Kohala High, took home the Sportsmanship Award at the 2017 Pan Pacific VEX Robotics Championship, photo credit: Art Kimura

Robotics teams from Sacred Hearts Academy and Pearl City High School won their respective competition “Excellence Awards” at the 2017 Pan Pacific VEX Robotics Championships, qualifying both to participate in the 2018 VEX World Championships to be held next April in Louisville, Kentucky. Seventy-nine teams from Hawaii, California and China participated in the weekend tournament sponsored by the Hawaiian Electric Companies and Okinawa Enetech with the support of the Engineers’ Council – University of Hawaii and Hawaii Space Grant Consortium.

The Excellence Award is the highest award presented in the VEX Championships, and is presented to a team that exemplifies overall excellence in building a high quality VEX robotics program.

In the VEX IQ Championships comprised of student teams in grades 3-8, the all-girl Sacred Hearts Academy team 2437A entered the finals with their sister team 2437B as the top seeded alliance. Ultimately, team 2437A took home the “Robot Skills Champion Award” and won the “Excellence Award.” According to organizers, team 2437A’s skills score has them ranked fourth in the world after the tournament.

In the VEX VRC Championship comprised of middle and high school students, Pearl City High School’s team 4142A earned the “Design Award” for their organized and professional approach to the design process, project and time management, and team organization, which are all program elements that helped them win the “Excellence Award.” This is the second consecutive year that Pearl City High School qualified for the VEX Worlds through their win at the Pan Pacific VEX.

Other top awards were handed to the Kailua-based Huakailani School for Girls and an independent team (Phoenixbots) from Mililani, which together earned the 2017 Pan Pacific VEX IQ Teamwork Champion Award for their two-team alliance.

A three-team alliance of Molokai High School, Waialua High & Intermediate School and the Rolling Robots from Rolling Hills Estates, California was named the 2017 Pan Pacific VEX VRC Tournament Champions.

Full results of the 2017 Pan Pacific VEX Robotics Championship can be found at www.robotevents.com.

6-Year-Old Wins Jamba Juice for a Year

Kolten Wong and 6-year-old Matyx Camero.

A 6-year-old boy from Hilo won Jamba Juice drinks for a year at the Hilo homecoming for Major League Baseball player Kolten Wong on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

Jamba Juice, located at the Prince Kuhio Shopping Plaza in Hilo, hosted the meet-and-greet for the star, a Hilo native, from 7:30 to 9 a.m., where fans got chances to take pictures, get autographs and talk with Wong.

At the event, Jamba Juice gave out free drinks and coupons to patrons, as well as offering one lucky customer a chance to win Jamba Juice for a year.

The winner of Jamba Juice for a year, was 6-year-old Matyx Camero of Hilo.

Wong graduated from Kamehameha High School on Hawai‘i Island, and also attended and played ball for the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Rainbow Warriors. He has been playing Major League Baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals since 2013.

This past season Kolten batted .285 his highest batting average in the big leagues.

Hawai‘i Island High School Students Attend Construction & Career Day

Big Island high school students had the opportunity to get firsthand experience working with heavy equipment that is used in construction of road projects on the Island of Hawaiʻi at the annual Hawaiʻi Construction and Career Day held at the Hilo Civic Center on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017.

The nonprofit event was intended to provide high school students an insight into career opportunities available in the multi-faceted construction industry.

The event offered high school students exposure in two areas: Heavy Equipment, in which students were able to operate heavy construction equipment, and the Educational Exhibits and Trades area, which consisted of displays from construction companies, engineering firms, government agencies, educational institutions and trade associations.

The students were able to learn about career opportunities and participate in interactive displays that involved the students in fun and challenging games.

Hawaiʻi Construction and Career Days mission is to “provide Hawaiʻi’s youth with an insight into career opportunities available in the multi-faceted construction industry.”

This event was sponsored in part by the HDOT, trade and labor organizations, private construction companies, corporate sponsors and many more.

Former Charter School Principal Charged with Theft

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that Laara Allbrett was charged yesterday by way of felony information with four counts of Theft in the Second Degree, a class C felony punishable by up to five years jail and/or a $10,000 fine.

Allbrett, 64, is the former principal of the Halau Lokahi public charter school, a Native Hawaiian-focused charter school whose recurring financial difficulties led to the revocation of its charter by the State Public Charter School Commission on March 30, 2015.

The felony information alleges that Allbrett committed theft by deception during her tenure as the principal of Halau Lokahi. A felony information is merely an allegation of criminal wrongdoing against Allbrett, and she is presumed innocent until found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt by a judge or jury.

A copy of the charging document is attached.

Click to read full document

Hawaiʻi Island Sixth Graders Make History

More than 500 Hawaiʻi Island sixth graders made history during the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s free STEM program, the Barnstorming Tour, last week.

Barnstorming Tour photos of a session at Waiakea Intermediate School. PC Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

For two-weeks the Barnstorming Team traveled across Hawaiʻi island teaching sixth-graders from Hilo, Pāhoa and Pāhala the science behind aviation.

“Barnstorming” refers to a style of stunt piloting that was performed in the 1920s to showcase pilots’ skills and the sturdiness of the planes they flew.

The Barnstorming Tour was developed in 2008 by museum staff with educators and science advisors from University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Since its inception, the program has reached over 26,000 sixth graders in their classrooms on Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi and now Hawaiʻi Island.

The 90-minute curriculum uses hands-on activities that incorporate all elements of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to help students understand the scientific principles of flight, as well as introduce them to aviation and aeronautic engineering as a viable career.

“It was an amazing education experience for the students and I cannot say enough good things about this program,” said Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts & Science Teacher Charlotte Romo. “As a teacher, I appreciate the level of organization and team work, it was perfectly orchestrated!”

“Students in this area never get opportunities like this,” said Pāhoa Elementary Teacher Channa Uyetake. “You guys (Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor) coming here is an educational experience we would have never dreamed of.”

The Barnstorming Team conducted 90-minute sessions at Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts & Science; Pāhoa Intermediate; Ka’u High & Pāhala Elementary; Ernest Bowen DeSilva; and Waiakea Intermediate, recipient of two separate visits.

Gayle Kamei, STEM Coordinator at Waiakea Intermediate said, “The fun and excitement of taking controls of a flight simulator and experiencing the miracle of flight by controlling a wing in a wind tunnel just doesn’t happen too often in a child’s life. Our sixth graders are actually learning the Laws of Physics first hand. What a unique learning experience for them.”

Costs incurred to bring the Barnstorming Tour and equipment to Hawaiʻi Island was underwritten by a $5,000 grant from Boeing.

Schools interested in having the Museum bring the free Barnstorming Tour to their classrooms should contact nick.kann@pacificaviationmuseum.org or call 808-441-1001.

Hawaii Awarded $2.25 Million for Youth Disability Workforce Development

Hawaii Youth At Work! Program Expands to Year Around

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) was awarded $2.25 million in federal funds to help prepare youth with disabilities to enter the workforce or post-secondary education. The funding enables Hawaii Youth At Work! summer participants to obtain paid work experience during the year, coupled with employment preparation activities.

“The summer program is a resounding success for the youth and it is usually their first paid job,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “We are proud to help expand these opportunities for youth with disabilities to contribute their skills and talents to Hawaii’s workforce.”

The program is a collaboration between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and DLIR. DHS’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division, and Social Services Division counselors and staff work with DLIR workforce staff to place participants in temporary jobs with the State and Counties.

“Despite their ability to occupy a variety of jobs, people with disabilities only account for 20 percent of the workforce, have more than double the unemployment rate compared to the general population and continue to face barriers finding work,” stated DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “We’re thrilled to expand this program so these young people have greater opportunity to engage in the workforce and prepare for meaningful employment.”

In 2016, the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provided 153 youth with disabilities paid work experience in State and County offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii. Youth were paid $10.00 an hour and worked up to twenty hours per week during the summer months. SYEP 2017 expanded referrals to include youth participants from the DHS’s Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division and Social Services Division in addition to VR. 125 participants were placed in State and City offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii.

The funding will strengthen collaborations with businesses and workforce partners to increase the number of youth with disabilities entering career pathways and accessing workforce services. The grant provides funding for services in the Counites of Hawaii and Maui as well as on Oahu. In addition to DHS, key partners include the University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies, Department of Education, and American Job Centers.

DLIR previously received $2,923,674 in 2011 and $2,500,000 in 2015 in Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) funds to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities. DEI funds help refine and expand workforce strategies proven to be successful, and enhance inclusive service delivery through the public workforce system. Improvements include: increasing the accessibility of American Job Centers (AJC); training front-line AJC and partner staff; and increasing partnerships with businesses that are critical for assisting youth and adults with disabilities in securing meaningful employment.

Equal Opportunity Employer/Program
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.  TDD/TTY Dial 711 then ask for (808) 586-8866

Hawaii State Department of Health Leads Oral Health Screening Initiative for Every Head Start and Early Head Start Student

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), in collaboration with the Hawaii Children’s Action Network, Head Start Collaboration Office, and Hawaii Head Start and Early Head Start programs, is conducting a statewide oral health screening project, beginning this fall. The project, which focuses on Hawaii keiki who are most at risk for cavities, builds upon the foundation set by the DOH’s Hawaii Smiles statewide third-grade screening project two years ago. The current project will look at younger children and include an oral health screening for every child enrolled in the Head Start and Early Head Start programs.The first screening is scheduled at the Parents and Children Together (PACT) headquarters at The Towers at Kuhio Park on Tuesday, Oct. 17, beginning at 10 am. Altogether, more than 2,970 children at more than 100 Head Start and Early Head Start sites statewide will have a dental screening in this school year. The health department will use this data on the oral health of these young children to inform the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and develop policies and programs to improve the oral health of children across Hawaii.

The Hawaii Smiles statewide screening team is composed of dentists and dental hygienists from the public and private sectors who will evaluate the extent of cavities in these children, provide oral health educational materials for parents and teachers, and offer recommendations for follow-up dental care.

“This project will allow us to better understand the patterns that surround dental decay in families and communities in our state,” said Dr. Gavin Uchida, DOH dental director. “On a community level, we know we must all do much more to improve the oral health of the residents of our state, and this information is foundational in helping us create the smartest, most effective plans for positive change.”

Previously, DOH issued the 2015/2016 Hawaii Smiles report, which validated that Hawaii’s third grade children have the highest prevalence of tooth decay in the nation. The baseline results were based on data collected from more than 3,000 third grade students in 67 public elementary schools during the 2014-2015 school year.

The findings from the Hawaii Smiles report were disappointing, but not surprising:

  • 71 percent of third graders in Hawaii have tooth decay, which is higher than the national average of 52 percent;
  • 22 percent of third graders have untreated tooth decay, indicating they are not receiving dental care;
  • About 7 percent of third graders are in need of urgent dental care because of pain or infection; and
  • There are significant oral health disparities by income as well as by race/ethnicity among third grade students in Hawaii.

“We are grateful that the HDS Foundation is being proactive and funding early solutions to Hawaii’s oral health problems,” said Deborah Zysman, executive director of the Hawaii Children’s Action Network. “These problems are often preventable when addressed in early childhood through screening, public education and outreach, and public policy. We are excited for the opportunity to make a difference in the health of Hawaii children.”

As part of the outreach efforts, parents and teachers will receive oral health educational materials and classroom supplies to reinforce the importance of good oral health to children.

The Hawaii Smiles report recommended community-based prevention programs that focus on oral health promotion and prevention services in early childhood programs to reach children at a younger age. The Early Head Start and Head Start programs were identified because of their extensive reach to children from birth to five years old.

“While this project is organized by the Department of Health, it actually is a growing coalition of local and national community partners who are taking action,” said Dr. Uchida. “We’re seeing the result of partnerships that start with caring individuals and small community groups, and extends to local businesses and associations, and even to national leadership at the CDC. A lot of people are now coming together to address the oral health problems we’re seeing in Hawaii, and this current project is just the beginning of good things to come.“

“We’re pleased to be able to continue our support for the Hawaii Smiles project,” said

Mark Yamakawa, president and CEO of Hawaii Dental Service (HDS). “Prevention is the key to good oral health especially for our young children, and we appreciate the collaborative effort to tackle this important issue in our state.”

The CDC awarded the DOH a $1.1 million grant to rebuild its oral health program, a portion of which is being used for these oral health screenings for 1,450 children at 50 Head Start and Early Head Start sites throughout the state.

The HDS Foundation gave a $45,000 grant to the Hawaii Children’s Action Network, which is helping to coordinate the logistics of this project, to expand the outreach efforts to an additional 59 sites and to conduct dental screenings for an additional 1,520 infants, toddlers and preschoolers for a total of more than 2,970 children.

Children will be referred to their dentist for follow-up care.  If they do not have a dentist, the DOH and the Head Start and Early Head Start programs will refer families to Community Case Management Corp., which assists Medicaid beneficiaries with finding dentists for treatment.

Progress Update on School Bus Driver Shortages on Maui and Kauai

Two consolidated bus routes on Maui were reinstated and more anticipated in coming weeks. Photo DOE

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) reports that progress is being made by school bus contractors to address the current shortage of Commercial Driver Licensed (CDL) drivers on Maui and Kauai qualified to operate school buses. Here are the latest updates:

  • Two previously consolidated bus routes on Maui have been restored to normal service times at Maui High School and Maui Waena Intermediate School.
    • Route GR14A makes a single morning and afternoon run from the Hale Kihei Housing and Makai Heights Subdivisions in Kihei to and from Maui High School.
    • Route GR18 A/B makes two morning and afternoon runs to and from Maui Waena Intermediate School. The first serves the Kahului area east of Puunene Avenue from Puukani Street to Kaahumanu Avenue, and north of West Kauai Street to Kaahumanu Avenue. The second run serves the Sands Hills, Puuone Tract, Kanaloa Houselots Subdivision and Paukukalo areas.
  • Kauai’s shortage of qualified school bus drivers continues to remain at seven. School bus routes have been consolidated to adjust to the staffing shortages and all schools are still being serviced. Driver candidates are currently in the licensing process and routes will be restored as they enter service.
  • Interested CDL drivers should contact the Student Transportation Services Branch at (808) 586-0170. Interested drivers without a CDL are also being sought. The CDL training and testing process is open and takes approximately three weeks to complete.

For school bus route questions or concerns, please call the Get On Board Hotline at (808) 586-0161 on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pacific Aviation Museum Providing Free STEM Program to Hawaii Island Schools

The FREE STEM outreach education program, allowing students to explore science through flight, will be presented to 6th graders in Hilo, Pahoa and Pahala.

More than 500 sixth graders on Hawaii Island will learn about the science behind aviation when members of Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s Barnstorming Program travel to Hawaii Island for the first time, October 16-27, 2017. The term “barnstorming” refers to a style of stunt piloting that was performed in the 1920’s to showcase pilots’ skills and the sturdiness of the planes they flew.

Barnstorming photos of a previous session at Benjamin Parker Elementary School on Oahu. Photo credit: Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

Pacific Aviation Museum’s Barnstorming Program was developed in 2008 by staff at the Museum in collaboration with educators and science advisors from University of Hawaii at Manoa, and since its inception, has reached over 26,000 sixth graders in their classrooms on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. The 90-minute curriculum is aligned to the Hawaii State Content Standards for Grade 6, and uses:

  • Table-top experiments where students are introduced to the two most important concepts in the science of aviation – Newton’s Third Law of Motion and Bernoulli’s Principle;
  • A portable wind tunnel that allows students to manipulate an airfoil inside a working wind tunnel via remote control. Students see the effects that airflow have on a wing, and how different velocities of the airstream can change a wing’s reaction to their controller inputs. Students discover how scientists and engineers use wind tunnels to design and test objects people use daily, from aircraft and cars, to homes; and
  • A P-40 flight simulator that serves as the culmination of the Barnstorming experience, where after learning the basic concepts through table-top experiments and the wind tunnel, students take the controls of a flying machine. The flight simulator allows students to operate the control surfaces (rudder, elevators and ailerons) that they learned about in the initial presentation, and decide what stick or pedal inputs they will need to obtain their desired movements. Student aviators fly the P-40 through several scenarios, including takeoff, landing, basic control familiarization, as well as pursuit and dogfight maneuvers.

Costs incurred to bring the program and equipment to Hawaii Island is being underwritten by a $5,000 grant from Boeing.

“Aviation plays such an important role in our everyday lives, from an economic and social point of view, to protecting our nation from harm,” said Shauna Tonkin, Director of Education, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. “Our Barnstorming Program is designed to incorporate all elements of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through interesting and hands-on activities that not only help students understand the scientific principles of flight, but also introduces aviation and aeronautical engineering as a viable career. We hope to continue taking this program on the road to students throughout Hawaii. Our ability to do this is based on the generous support we receive from businesses and foundations, such as Boeing.”

Beginning October 16, Pacific Aviation Museum will bring its Barnstorming program to the following schools:

October 16: Ernest Bowen DeSilva Elementary, Hilo
October 17-19: Waiakea Intermediate, Hilo
October 20: Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science, Pahoa
October 23: Ka’u High & Pahala Elementary, Pahala
October 24: Pahoa Intermediate, Pahoa
October 25-27: Waiakea Intermediate, Hilo

On the evening of October 23, Pacific Aviation Museum will also host a free community outreach event at Ka’u High & Pahala Elementary School called Discover Your Future in Aviation (DYFA). Mirrored after the Museum’s annual DYFA on Oahu, the event is designed as an interactive fair that provides youth with information and resources related to the aviation and aerospace industries.

With a special emphasis on young women and underserved populations, DYFA’s goal is to generate interest and present STEM career opportunities by having exhibitors in the field of aerospace and aviation at the event, coupled with interactive STEM-related activities. The event will also feature keynote speaker Z. Nagin Cox, a NASA Mars Rover engineer who has held leadership and system engineering positions on interplanetary robotic missions including the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Kepler exoplanet hunter, InSight, and the Mars Curiosity Rover. In 2015, Asteroid 14061 was named after her by its discoverers.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognized aviation museum on Historic Ford Island that educates young and old alike, honors aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in The Pacific Region, and to preserve Pacific aviation history.

Bank of Hawaii Foundation Grants $100,000 for PBS Hawai’i’s HIKI NO

Bank of Hawaii Foundation, an early backer of PBS Hawai‘i’s award-winning HIKI NŌ statewide student digital media initiative, has renewed its support with a $100,000 grant.

HIKI NŌ, primarily an education program, encourages students to hone progressive “real world” learning skills. These skills are showcased in a weekly on-air and online newscast, in which students meet national PBS professional journalism standards.

“Kudos to Leslie Wilcox and PBS Hawai‘i for championing HIKI NŌ and helping students from all islands to develop skills in a digital world,” said Peter S. Ho, Chairman, President and CEO of Bank of Hawaii. “HIKI NŌ students tell the stories of their communities with a voice and perspective that is powerful and authentic.”

Bank of Hawaii Foundation’s support dates back to the launch of HIKI NŌ in 2011. Since then, HIKI NŌ schools have become digital media stand-outs at local and national competitions.

At no cost to schools, HIKI NŌ serves 90 public, private and charter schools across the Islands, middle and high schools. Under the guidance of teachers, participating students create their stories of their communities after school hours. The Hawaii State Department of Education is considering making HIKI NŌ an official elective course in public schools.

Says PBS Hawai‘i Director of Learning Initiatives Robert Pennybacker: “Bank of Hawaii Foundation has helped open career paths to students by enabling them to gain the ability to problem-solve, persevere and meet deadlines with quality digital media work.”

Commentary – Were Pahoa High and Intermediate Lunch Times Shortened Because of a Fight?

Yesterday, KHON2 News ran a news story about Pahoa’s lunches being shortened.

…Changes to the lunch program at a Hawaii island school prompted parents to reach out to us, saying their kids are being rushed to eat.

Their kids go to Pahoa High and Intermediate School, which recently started a pilot lunch program.
High school students eat during the normal 30-minute lunch break, but intermediate school students eat during recess, which is just 15 minutes long…

I received the following message on Wednesday indicating that this change in policy may have stemmed from a fight on campus… but didn’t discuss it further with the person sending me the information until tonight:

Aloha Damon, I wanted to bring something to your attention that maybe you could do some investigative reporting. Apparently Pahoa High and Intermediate administration has decided to have Intermediate student only eat lunch during first recess which is 15 minutes while the high school eats during regular lunch which is 30 minutes. When I complained to the principal she stated it was due to decreasing tardys to class during lunch time. An insider told me they did it because of a fight that occurred between a Intermediate kid and a high schooler.

When discussing this with friends on Facebook, one person posted a picture from the Pahoa Cafeteria:

My kids say they don’t even bother eating when this is what they are serving at Pahoa. ~VW

“This was what they call Baja fish taco SMH. This was on Wednesday when we went to school for student of the month luncheon I was In Shock when he came to the table with this…Home lunches from now on!!!” said Valerie Walsh.

Got Baja Fish Taco? I don’t know if I could swallow this in 15 minutes… less yet an hour!!!

NBA Stars Help Open a Newly Refurbished Computer Lab for Students

Stevenson Middle School and the L.A. Clippers Foundation dedicated a newly refurbished computer lab earlier today before students, teachers and special guests, along with members of the L.A. Clippers Foundation and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan also joined the dedication ceremony with a special appearance by the team’s mascot, Chuck the Condor.

Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers with students on new computers in the Stevenson Middle School lab.

“Our students are so thankful for the wonderful generosity of the L.A. Clippers Foundation. The new computers will provide technology access to more students,” said Principal Linell Dilwith. “We want to thank the Hawaii Tourism Authority for connecting us with the L.A. Clippers Foundation, and a big mahalo to the foundation and Denise Booth for their hard work in making this new computer lab a reality.”

The Clippers’ mascot, Chuck the Condor, tries his hand (or wing?) on the ukulele with students.

Stevenson Middle received a donation of nearly $40,000 in computer equipment from the L.A. Clippers Foundation, including 30 HP ProDesk desktops, two Canon wireless printers and a 55-inch television for instruction. In addition to converting the classroom into a computer lab, the donation will also provide a new central air conditioning unit for the room.

“These are not just computers,” said Gillian Zucker, president of business operations for the L.A. Clippers, “they’re windows to the world that I hope make learning fun. That’s really what we want to do. We want to make coming to school a better experience for students.”

Students, Gillian Zucker, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, VP Sonja Samsonas and Principal Linell Dilwith untie the official maile lei opening Stevenson Middle’s refurbished computer lab.

The computer lab will be accessible to all students for the school’s digital and online programs. Stevenson’s Media/Photography Club will be housed in the new lab and will use the equipment to produce the student newsletter and document school activities. Coincidentally, the computer lab happens to have a special room number — 213 — which corresponds to Chuck the Condor’s jersey number and LA’s area code.

Hawaii Department of Health Awarded $361K in Funding for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Efforts

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Children with Special Health Needs Branch has been awarded $361,956 in cooperative agreement funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the Hawaii Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (HI-CLPPP).

The federal funding will support the state’s efforts to reduce lead exposure and lead poisoning for Hawaii children under the age of six. Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health; increase the risks for damage to the brain and nervous system; slow growth and development; and result in learning, behavioral, hearing and speech problems. Young children are at the highest risk for lead exposure because they engage in more hand-to-mouth activity, and a child’s developing nervous system is more susceptible to the effects of lead.

“Early screening and testing to identify and prevent lead exposure in young children helps ensure the healthy development of our keiki,” said Dr. Patricia Heu, chief of the DOH Children with Special Health Needs Branch. “This new funding will improve our processes to identify lead-exposed children and link their families with services to find and remove the source of lead. This will help to protect that child and other children in the family from further exposure.”

According to DOH data from 2011 to 2015, nearly 60,000 children under the age of six in Hawaii were tested for lead. Of those tested, 1,700 children (about 3 percent) had elevated blood lead levels.

“Recent research shows that there is no safe blood lead level in children.” said Danette Wong Tomiyasu, Health Resources Administration deputy director. “Keeping our keiki safe from lead hazards and lead poisoning requires collaborative efforts between our state programs, healthcare professionals, and our community. The department is committed to working with these groups to promote the healthy development of young children and to support their future success in school and life.”

The cooperative agreement funding will enable DOH to address the complex problem of childhood lead poisoning using a collaborative approach with state and community partners. The department’s Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office, Indoor and Radiological Health Branch/Lead-Based Paint Program, and Public Health Nursing Branch are working together with the Children with Special Health Needs Branch to implement the HI-CLPPP program.

HI-CLPPP’s purpose is to reduce lead exposure and lead poisoning for children under the age of six through strengthening blood lead level testing, surveillance, prevention, and processes to identify lead-exposed children and link them to services. Strategies and activities under the new grant will include:

  • Updating guidelines for blood lead testing.
  • Implementing a new lead database as a public health management tool.
  • Education and outreach to communities and providers.
  • Coordinating with other agencies, partners and stakeholders serving children to ensure that a comprehensive system of identification, referral, services and follow-up is in place for lead-exposed children.

Sources of lead exposure for children may include lead in paint or paint dust in houses built before 1978 when lead-based paint in housing was banned. Children may also be exposed to lead by family members who work with or have hobbies that involve contact with lead such as auto repair, welding, construction and home renovation. Other sources of lead may include fishing sinkers, jewelry, toys, glazed pottery and folk medicine made in foreign countries.

Being aware of the sources of lead and taking precautions can help protect young children from the serious effects of lead poisoning. Families can ask their doctor to test their child for lead, even if the child seems healthy. Families living in homes built before 1978 should keep children’s play areas free of paint chips and dust and take extra precaution when doing home renovation to prevent the spread of lead dust. Family members who work with lead are advised to keep work clothes and shoes away from children.

More information can be found at the department’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention website at http://health.hawaii.gov/cshcn/leadpp/.

Pahoa Scholars Feast Fundraiser Update – Scholarships Available

This past Saturday, on September 30th, hundreds gathered to support the Pahoa Schools Booster Club and Scholarship Fund on the grounds of Sacred Heart Church. Following this past weekend’s successful event, the organization has announced that $5,000 will be available for the Class of
2018 scholarship awards.

The Pahoa High School Girls’ Volleyball Team joined the Boys of Youth Challenge and dozens of community volunteers in creating and delivering an awesome Vegan Lasagna and Ribeye Steak meal to over 350 hungry supporters.

Our most heart-felt thanks to everyone, including the generous contributions from Island Natural Foods, Malama Market, Tin Shack Bakery, Kalani Honua, Ning’s Thai Cuisine, Stratos Pizzeria, Black Rock Café, Pahoa Auto Parts, Paul’s Repair, Boogie Woogie Pizza, Sustainable Island Products and Bananarama Bakery.

Under the leadership of organizers Mark Hinshaw, Nancy J Kramer CPA, Aaron Ferreira and Aunty Madie Greene, a good time was had by all!

The original Scholarship Endowment was established by the family of former Hawai’i County Council Member Richard G Edwards after his passing. As a former Puna Lion’s Club member, his family chose the Lion’s Club to administer the scholarship over the years.

This past year, responsibility was passed on to Mainstreet-Pahoa Associations’s Pahoa Schools Booster Club, under the financial guidance of Nancy J Kramer CPA. The initial endowment that was transferred to the Booster Club was $21,000 and thanks to the generous contributions this year by Kaleos Bar and Grill of $5,000 and the new Puna Kai Shopping Center of $5000, the current Endowment sits at $31,000. The current 2020 goal is $50,000.

Class of 2018 Scholarships also received significant contributions. Puna Geothermal Ventures provided of $1,000, local businessman Vernon Lindsey and Lava Shack $500. Former Pahoa High School Guidance Counselor Nancy Seifers has stepped up to create the “Aunty Nancy” Scholarship of $1,000.

This year’s work on the selection process, amounts to be awarded, and application tools will begin in November. The intention of the Pahoa Booster Club is to distribute the awards among all three area schools, HAAS, Kua O Ka La and Pahoa High School, to graduating Seniors with B average or better grades, who are choosing to continue their education at a university or community college.

The Class of 2018 specific award amounts and criteria for each award will be announced when the application materials are made available at the end of the year. All three schools are encouraged to participate in the application process.

Anyone wishing to obtain further information on contributing to the Scholarship Fund should contact us at PahoaBoosterClub@gmail.com or call 965-7110.

We are most encouraged at the success of this year’s event and we are already in the planning stages for next year’s Scholars Feast, the last Saturday of September in 2018.

I mua Pahoa!

Mālama Park Baseball Field in Pana‘ewa Closed for Repairs

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation announces Mālama Park baseball field will be closed beginning October 16, 2017 for repairs to the infield.

Parks Maintenance crews will be conducting the repairs and estimate six to eight weeks for all repairs to be complete.

The football field at the park will remain open during this time.

For more information please call Darrell Yamamoto at 961-8740.

Hawaii Department of Health Awarded $3.5 Million to Support Families Through Home Visiting Program

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has been awarded $3,510,137 in federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support the state’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. The funds will provide voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy, and to parents with young children up to kindergarten entry.

“Home visiting services help to ensure our keiki and their families have a healthier start,” said Matthew Shim, DOH Family Health Services Division Chief. “This federal funding will allow the state to continue to provide this important service to expecting mothers and families during a critical time in their child’s development.”

The MIECHV Program serves about 850 Hawaii families each year with more than 10,000 home visits conducted statewide annually. Families are screened for eligibility in birthing hospitals, or families may contact MIECHV contracted providers online at www.yourohana.org to determine their eligibility. Services assist mothers through pregnancy and post-delivery, providing support to mothers learning to breastfeed and care for their baby’s health and early development through no-cost home visiting educational supports. Parents receive counseling to acquire knowledge and understanding of child development milestones and positive parenting techniques. Assistance is also offered to help families to set goals for the future, continue their education, and find employment and child care solutions.

During federal fiscal year 2016, 93.9 percent of pregnant women enrolled in the program accessed prenatal care before the end of their second trimester. Prenatal care is essential for ensuring the safe birth of a healthy baby. Pregnant women enrolled in the program also reported breastfeeding their infants for an average of 24.6 weeks or for the first 6 months of life as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of the families enrolled in the program received counseling on the results of the child’s developmental screenings, and parents spent more time in adult education programs to move toward economic self-sufficiency by furthering their education.

“The MIECHV Program helps parents and caregivers connect with services and resources and improve the skills they need to support their families’ well-being and provide the best opportunities for their children,” said HRSA Associate Administrator for Maternal and Child Health Michael Lu, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. “In these voluntary programs, trained nurses, social workers, early childhood educators, or other trained professionals meet regularly with expectant parents or families with young children in their homes, building strong, positive relationships with families who want and need support.”

Administered by HRSA, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the MIECHV Program gives pregnant women and families, particularly those considered at-risk, necessary resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. Funded through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 through FY 2017, the MIECHV Program is also addressing HHS’ clinical priorities such as the opioid crisis, serious mental illness, and childhood obesity. Nationwide, $342 million in funding was awarded to 55 states, territories, and nonprofit organizations.

For more information on HRSA’s Home Visiting Program, visit http://mchb.hrsa.gov/programs/homevisiting.

For a list of all state and county awardees, visit https://mchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/home-visiting/fy17-home-visiting-awards.

Parker School to Host Color Stampede Fun Run

Parker School invites the community to come get splashed at the 18th Annual George Heneghan Fun Run and Color Stampede on Sunday, October 29, 2017.

The starting line at last year’s Color Stampede and Fun Run at Parker School

At the color stampede, participants are splashed with different colored powder throughout the race which takes place on Parker School’s lower school campus and in the surrounding neighborhood. This event is open to the public and consists of a 1K Keiki Run which starts at 7:30 a.m. for kids ages 11 and under, followed by a 5K Fun Run/Walk at 8:00 a.m.

“We enjoy providing our community with a fun, healthy event in Waimea with the hope that our school’s athletic department can inspire others to stay active,” says Nicole Vedelli, Athletic Director at Parker School. “It is always a fun colorful event and everyone leaves happy and a little healthier too!”

This community event was established in 1999 in memory of Hawaii architect George Heneghan, an accomplished athlete, teacher and Parker cross country and track coach from 1992 to 1998.
All proceeds from the run will go to support Parker School’s athletics program.

The entry fee is $30 for adults and $25 for kids 11 and under. Register by October 16 to be guaranteed a race kit. Race kit includes a t-shirt, glasses, bracelet, color packet and a beaded necklace. Medals will be awarded to first place overall male and female finishers in the 5K run and 1K run, and first place finishers in each age category.

Parker extends special thanks to this year’s generous Heneghan Fun Run sponsors Big Island Running Company, Five Mountain Fitness, Mamane Bakery, and Ironman Triathlon.
For more information or to download a registration form, please visit www.parkerschoolhawaii.org, email nvedelli@parkerschoolhawaii.org, or call 808-885-7933 ext. 7106.

Collaborative Effort to Reduce Truancy Launched on Kauai – Truancy Court

The Fifth Circuit Court, in partnership with numerous Kauai agencies and organizations, has launched Truancy Court Collaboration, a pilot project to improve school attendance and family engagement.

A similar program at an Oahu intermediate school produced a 91 percent daily school attendance rate in 2016-17, up about 40 percent from 2015-16.

“We are very excited about this program and grateful to our partners for helping us to introduce Truancy Court Collaboration on Kauai,” said Judge Edmund D. Acoba of the Fifth Circuit’s Family Court. “We believe that this can be achieved by addressing the hardships and barriers that students and their families face through the use of positive, meaningful interventions which are culturally sensitive, and employ place-based community connections through education, engagement, and enforcement.”

Since January, Juvenile Client and Family Services (JCFS) has been working collaboratively with the Department of Education’s District Superintendent Bill Arakaki, Waimea High School Principal Mahina Anguay, Waimea Canyon Principal Melissa Speetjens, and representatives from the Department of Education’s Mokihana program, Department of Health, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, Hale Kipa Student Attendance Support Service, Liliuokalani Trust, and the Kauai Police Department.

“This student-centered collaboration is designed to build consistent school attendance, which is critical for student achievement, graduation, and a fulfilling career,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “By encouraging family engagement, rewarding positive behavior, empowering students and holding them responsible, we give students the tools to make good choices and achieve their full potential.

“I’m grateful to Judge Acoba and all of the partners for participating in Family Court’s mission to offer a place of healing,” he said.

“The unwavering mission of Queen Liliuokalani — to ensure the well-being of Hawaiian children and ohana — is the guiding light for our work at Liliuokalani Trust,” said Systems Liaison Edralyn Caberto. “Therefore, we are very excited about the opportunity to partner with the Fifth Circuit Family Court and community stakeholders in developing innovative strategies to enhance our youths’ opportunities to succeed educationally and to thus build pathways to thriving lives.”

The need to reverse truancy is highlighted in a University of Hawaii study, which reported that up to 89 percent of Hawaii inmates said they were truants.

The West Kauai School Complex was selected to participate in this pilot program based on its strong interest in addressing truancy problems in its area.

In August, JCFS staff, Judge Acoba, Hale Kipa, Deputy Attorney General Russell Goo, and representatives from Liliuokalani Trust presented the Truancy Court Collaboration Pilot Project at Waimea Canyon’s disciplinary assembly for the eighth-graders’ parents. JCFS and Hale Kipa then made similar presentations to the sixth- and seventh-graders’ parents. The final presentation was made at Waimea High School’s open house.

Attendees learned that the DOE will identify students from the 2016-2017 school year who accumulated 15 or more absences. If the absences continue this year, the DOE will contact the family. If the DOE’s efforts to intervene are unsuccessful, a referral will be made to Hale Kipa to contact the family and do home visits. If Hale Kipa’s intervention efforts are also unsuccessful, then a referral will be made to JCFSB and a probation officer will speak to the family about court intervention if the barriers are not addressed. As a last resort, a petition will be filed and the family will have to appear in Family Court. DOE, Hale Kipa, and JCFSB will continue to collaborate to keep students on track once a referral is made to Family Court.

“The goal is to provide early assistance to families that addresses barriers to attending school or classes without having to file a petition in Family Court and requiring the student and parents to appear due to truancy,” said Judge Acoba.

If the pilot project proves effective, the hope is to eventually expand it to all the middle and high schools on Kauai.

Tomorrow – Mainstreet Pahoa Associations Scholars Feast

Stop Flu at School Clinic Information Now Available – Free Flu Shots Available

The list of schools participating in this year’s school-located flu vaccination program, Stop Flu at School, is available on the Hawaii Department of Health’s (DOH) website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/about-us/programs/stop-flu-at-school/. DOH will hold flu vaccination clinics in 167 public schools statewide from Nov. 1 through Dec. 21, 2017.

To sign up for the free flu shots available to their children, parents or guardians should complete and sign provided consent forms, and return them to schools by the deadline, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017.

Information packets and vaccination consent forms will be distributed to parents through participating schools in early October. A fillable, electronic version of the consent form can be found online at https://vaxonlinereg.doh.hawaii.gov, and non-English translations of the consent form packet are available at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/about-us/programs/stop-flu-at-school/.

This marks the eleventh year of the Stop Flu at School program. Since 2007, nearly 600,000 flu vaccinations have been administered at more than 300 public, private, and charter schools statewide through this voluntary program. The annual program, which provides flu vaccinations to school-age children at no cost to Hawaii families, is supported by federal funds and private contributions, resulting in a massive statewide coordination effort involving volunteers and local partnerships. Program costs have previously totaled approximately $2 million per year.

This year, the department anticipates vaccinating 35,000 public school students through the program. Flu vaccination of students at school is an effective strategy for reducing the spread of influenza in our communities and protecting those at risk of serious illness.

For more information about Stop Flu at School, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/about-us/programs/stop-flu-at-school/ or call Aloha United Way’s information and referral service at 2-1-1.