Hawaii Moon RIDERS Honored at Capital

The House of Representatives today recognized the Iolani School and Kealakehe High School robotics team, known as the Moon RIDERS, for their work on the electrodynamic dust shield lunar project and their partnerships with PISCES, NASA, and Google Lunar Xprize. 

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

In February, the group was selected to take part in an experiment involving electrodynamic dust shield technology that will be conducted on the surface of the moon by the end of 2016. 

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

The selected Hawaii students will be mentored by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.  The project came about through an agreement with PISCES and NASA to work on a Hawaii high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project.

16th Annual Waimea Healthy Keiki Fest Coming Up

The 16th Annual Waimea Healthy Keiki Fest will be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Parker Ranch Center.

Keiki Fest 2015

Designed for children ages 3 to 12, our keiki along with their parents will spend the day exploring a variety of free, hands-on activities addressing environment, fitness, health, mind, nutrition and safety.

Families will have the opportunity to explore more than 30 hands-on learning booths offering activities designed to develop healthy brains, healthy bodies and healthy beings. Activities include:

  • Free bicycle helmets from North Hawaii Community Hospital’s (NHCH) Trauma Team
  • “Glow Monster” hand hygiene education with NHCH
  • Bike safety course by Lex Brodie’s, PATH, South Kohala Traffic Safety and NHCH’s Trauma Team
  • DIY paper volcanoes with Center of the Study of Active Volcanoes
  • Veggie stamp art with Kohala Village Hub
  • Car seat fitting by the Department of Health – Public Health Nursing
  • Collage making art activity with the Waimea Arts Council
  • Many more hands-on activities

Each child will receive a “passport” to track their participation at each learning booth.  A completed “passport” offers keiki the opportunity to choose from a host of activities, such as a turn on the rock climbing wall or bounce house, or receive an airbrush tattoo.   This event’s mission is to bring the schools and communities of North Hawaii together to celebrate the health and safety of our greatest asset, our keiki.  All activities are free.

This year’s Keiki Fest is brought to you by North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) and Tutu’s House. This event supports the hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment topic of “Exercise, Weight and Nutrition”.   The umbrella topic of “Exercise, Weight and Nutrition” allows NHCH to touch the numerous health disparities found within the community. The Parker Ranch Center is located at 67-1185 Mamalahoa Highway in Kamuela.   For more information and to learn how you can support this hands-on kids’ event, please contact Laurie Edmondson, Community Outreach Coordinator at North Hawaii Community Hospital, at 881-4425 or at Laurie.Edmondson@NHCH.com.

20th Annual Kick Butts Day in Hawaii

Kids in Hawaii will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 18 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned nationwide for this day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)

toll of tobaccoOn Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free, demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly, addictive products to them and encourage elected officials to do more to reduce youth tobacco use.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how the tobacco industry still spends huge sums on marketing and is adopting new strategies to reach young customers. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Hawaii, tobacco companies spend $26.9 million annually on marketing efforts. The industry’s tactics that entice kids include:

  • Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and Rolling Stone.
  • Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
  • New, sweet-flavored tobacco products such as small cigars and electronic cigarettes. The latest surveys show that youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.

In addition to organizing events, kids are standing up to the tobacco industry on social media through the #NotAReplacement selfie campaign. The tobacco industry’s own documents reveal that they have long targeted kids as “replacement smokers” for the more than 480,000 people their products kill each year in the United States. Kids are taking selfies to say they’re not a replacement and sharing the photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #NotAReplacement hashtag. (view the #NotAReplacement selfie gallery)

“On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up and reject Big Tobacco’s manipulative marketing,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We can make the next generation tobacco-free and end the tobacco epidemic for good. Elected officials can help reach that goal by standing with kids and supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws and prevention programs.”

Health advocates in Hawaii are urging state leaders to increase the legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 to reduce smoking and save lives. In Hawaii, tobacco use claims 1,400 lives and costs $526 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.4 percent of Hawaii’s high school students smoke.

On Kick Butts Day, kids engage in creative events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.

In Hawaii, activities include:

Youth with the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii in Honolulu will hold a major event at the State Capitol to educate and empower their peers to advocate for a bill to raise the tobacco age of sale in the state to 21. Youth will create signs, post to social media, and meet with legislators in support of the bill. Time: 10 AM. Location: 415 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu. Contact: Mary Goldsworthy (509) 710-4298.

Students at Helemano School Age Center in Wahiawa will learn about the dangers of smoking and create a short phrase about staying tobacco-free to display in the youth center’s fence with cups. Time: 3 PM. Location: 327 Kuapale Road, Wahiawa. Contact: Rebecca Staggs (808) 653-0724.

The U.S. Army Hawaii Youth Sports in Honolulu will hold a day of activities for youth to stand up to tobacco, including a fun run, a dance performance to ‘Thriller’ and informational activities. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: 4725 Bougainville Drive, Honolulu. Contact: Brittany Bigham (808) 426-8790.

All events noted above are on March 18. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Hawaii, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

National Science Foundation Awards UH Hilo $622,175 for STEM Scholarships

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo a $622,175 grant to support the Scholarships for STEM Program (S-STEM), which provides scholarships for academically talented, economically disadvantaged high school seniors who major in one of the following STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines–astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, geology, marine science, mathematics and physics. The application deadline is April 15, 2015.

UH Hilo Moniker

Raina Ivanova, UH Hilo professor of mathematics, principal investigator and director of the program, said, “The S-STEM Program will provide much needed support for our deserving students who have demonstrated academic potential, but due to financial difficulties might not be able to consider a college degree. We are excited to be able to help our talented youth and enable them to pursue meaningful careers in STEM here in Hawaiʻi.”

S-STEM Program details

The S-STEM Program will provide each scholar with a $20,000 scholarship for four years of undergraduate studies (up to $5,000 per year), provided that the student maintains good academic standing and remains a STEM major. The program will also integrate and expand existing educational services for STEM students at UH Hilo.

Students will be selected on the basis of academic potential, motivation and interest in the STEM disciplines, as indicated by their high school GPA, standardized test scores, a letter stating interests and letters of reference.

Academic support services for the program include:

  • Faculty mentoring
  • Peer-tutoring for introductory STEM courses
  • Summer and academic year research support on campus
  • Opportunities for research internships
  • Advising and support to participate in summer research programs at U.S. mainland universities
  • Participation in a newly established freshman STEM course
  • Opportunities to present research in campus-wide, state and regional venues
  • Participation in a community service program in which students will provide math and science tutoring for K–12 students

To apply go to the S-STEM Program website.

Ulu Wini Playground Project Breaks Ground

HOPE Services Hawaii joined residents of Na Kahua Hale O Ulu Wini (The Homes at Ulu Wini) to break ground on a brand-new outdoor playspace at the Ulu Wini housing complex in Kailua-Kona on February 25.

ulu wini blessing

The $180,000 state-of-the-art Miracle Mega Tower is a first for Ulu Wini and was made possible through a donation from the Roberts Foundation. Anne Bailey from the Office of Housing and Community Development was present on behalf the County of Hawaii administration.

“The residents and keiki of Ulu Wini are so excited and grateful to have a beautiful and safe outdoor play structure in their backyard,” said Brandee Menino, Chief Operating Officer of HOPE Services. “We have so much aloha for the Roberts Foundation.”

The 62’ X 52’ Mega Tower will feature four play structures including a heptagon double decker tower and water fountain, spiral and wave slides, a fish bridge, play panels and climbing apparatuses including stairs, risers, ladders and a fossil bluff climbing wall. The play structures, with the exception of the water fountain, will be covered with recycled steel roofing or commercial grade fabric umbrellas.
ulu wini renderingThe Mega Tower playspace allows access to multiple levels and is meant to encourage social inclusion and sensory play.

Volunteers from Lake Mead Christian Academy and residents from Ulu Wini will be assisting NyLawn with construction of the playground, which is expected to be complete by the end of March 2015.

Built in 2013 by the County of Hawaii’s Office of Housing & Community Development and operated by HOPE Services, The Homes at Ulu Wini provides 96 two-bedroom units—23 transitional housing for homeless families, 72 affordable housing dedicated to low-income families and one unit for the resident manager.

Friday – HawaiiCon’s Cosmic Cosplay Ball

This Friday the 13th, HawaiiCon presents the Cosmic Cosplay Ball.

Winners of HawaiiCon’s 2014 Cosplay Contest – photo credit Tyler Murray

Winners of HawaiiCon’s 2014 Cosplay Contest – photo credit Tyler Murray

Cosplay (“costume play”) was coined in 1984 at WorldCon. Fans celebrate their favorite fictional and non-fictional characters through the construction and wearing of costumes.

This all ages event takes place at the Hilo High School Auditorium from 7-10pm. There will be dancing, a silent auction and refreshments, but the highlight will be the costume contest. This contest will bring out the best costume makers of the Big Island to compete for cash and other prizes.

For more information go to www.hawaiicon.com or follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/hawaiicon or @HawaiiCon on Twitter.

Funds from HawaiiCon’s Cosmic Cosplay Ball will help the Performing Arts Learning Center continue to offer quality arts education experiences to East Hawaii keiki. PALC is an after school theatre arts program open to students in grades 7-12. Hundreds of students over the last three decades have found enrichment through working on stage and acting before the public.

Big Island Police Searching for Hilo Girl Missing Since January

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 15-year-old Hilo girl who was reported missing.

Kyara K. Kalili

Kyara K. Kalili

Kyara K. Kalili was last seen in Hilo on January 9.

She is described as 5-foot-3, 170 pounds with brown eyes and long brown hair with “ehu” highlights.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hawaii Department of Education Strengthening Commitment to Hawaiian Programs

After spending two years to create a strategic path forward for Hawaiian Education, the Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) shared how it is strengthening its commitment to Hawaiian programs in the public school system.

DOE ReleaseSuperintendent Kathryn Matayoshi today updated the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) on the collaborative groundwork made since BOE acted on two Hawaiian Education policies.

The board and the department initiated and engaged in a number of community stakeholder meetings over 18 months to listen to the concerns and opportunities for improvements before the enactment of revisions to Hawaiian Education policies 2104 and 2105.

Policy 2104 was changed to incorporate the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Education to support Hawaiian education’s positive impacts on the educational outcomes of all students. Policy 2105 provides students with Hawaiian bicultural and bilingual education; and the development and administration of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (Ka Papahana Kaiapuni) curriculum, standards, and formative and summative assessments. The DOE’s Kaiapuni program is offered at 20 schools and educates more than 2,000 students.

“Over the course of the last year, we have engaged with Hawaiian educators, community leaders, parents and supporters to create a stronger Hawaiian education pathway,” said Superintendent Matayoshi. “We started this process from the beginning with setting a unified vision and taking the necessary actions that set a clear direction.”

With the recent establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Education, the DOE is now accepting applications for a director. The director will lead the incorporation of Hawaiian knowledge, practices and perspectives in all content areas; oversee and coordinate Hawaiian education programs, projects, and initiatives; and provide organizational leadership for growth of Ka Papahana Kaiapuni.

Many stakeholders, who spent the last year providing input in the strategic mission of the Office and the description of the director position, filled the boardroom. Superintendent Matayoshi thanked the stakeholders including Kamehameha Schools and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for their support.

“There has been a lot of thought and shared commitment by our community partners, Chair Don Horner and board member Cheryl Lupenui to ensure that all of our students receive quality lessons that are uniquely provided through Hawaiian Education,” added Superintendent Matayoshi. “We know there is a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that Hawaii Education is aligned to the Hawaii Common Core standards while incorporating cultural knowledge and understanding.”

Community engagement will remain a priority as the DOE continues to advance Hawaiian Education initiatives while addressing the following challenges:

  • System wide valuing of Hawaiian education for all students
  • Developing a manageable scope and focus for the Office of Hawaiian Education
  • Aligning federal and state accountability requirements for Hawaiian language assessments
  • Limited time and resources to implement policies systems-wide and prepare all students before they graduate

Individuals interested in the position of Director of the Office of Hawaiian Education can apply here. Application deadline is February 20, 2015. For more information about Hawaiian Education, please visit www.hawaiipublicschools.org.

Superintendent Matayoshi also briefed the BOE on the development of a Hawaiian language assessment. The DOE, in partnership with the University of Hawaii-Manoa, has developed a field test for Kaiapuni students that measures progress towards mastery of academic standards that is on par with the Smarter Balanced Assessment given in the English language. The field test in language arts and math for students in grades 3 and 4 enrolled in Ka Papahana Kaiapuni schools will be held this spring. DOE has requested a “double testing” waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would allow students taking the field test to forego the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Many Kaiapuni parents have chosen to “opt out” of English language statewide assessments. When students opt out it has detrimental effects on the school’s Strive HI results. Strive HI is the DOE’s school accountability and improvement system.

“Hawaii has a unique situation of educating students who learn in an official language of the state,” noted Superintendent Matayoshi, who visited with federal officials on this issue in November 2014. “This is not about translating a test, rather offering a quality assessment in the indigenous language of Hawaii.”

HI-PAL Basketball Results – Hoop Dreams Claim Title

More than 70 youths from 10 teams participated in the HI-PAL “Click It or Ticket” 12-and-under basketball championships this past weekend at Carvalho Park.

My son doing his best to block out against the big boys!

My son doing his best to block out against the big boys!

Hoop Dreams raced past Stray-Kats 49-19 to claim the tournament title. Kaukahi Alameda scored 14 points and Kiaʻi Apele, added 12 to spark the champions. Jamichael Labuanan scored eight to lead the runners-up.

Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams

Members of the championship Hoop Dreams squad included Alameda, Apele, Kilohana Hassenritter, Shesley Martinez, Guyson Ogata, Dominique Pacheco, Keegan Scanlan and Kaupena Yasso.

In the Third Place contest, Waiākea Titans edged Kamehameha Warriors 26-14. Johnacy Mackwelung led the Titans with 14 points. The Warriors were led by Micah Low’s six points.

Others teams participating in the event were the Andrews Hawks, B-Elite, Kaʻu Champs, Keaʻau Chargers Red, Keaʻau Chargers Black and Rise Above.

“Click It or Ticket” is a national education and enforcement campaign to increase seat belt usage and decrease traffic fatalities and injuries. The Hawaʻii Police Department encourages all youth, teens and adults to use their seat belts.

Pāhoa Pool Nighttime Swim Program Temporarily Suspended

The new nighttime swim program at the Pāhoa Community Aquatic Center is being temporally suspended so the pool may be upgraded to better meet patrons’ needs.

Pahoa Pool

Until further notice, Monday, January 26, will mark the last of the nighttime open-swim sessions offered at the Pāhoa Community Aquatic Center. Lighting and other safety enhancements are needed before the pilot program will be reinstated.

In response to swimmers’ requests for longer operating hours, the Department of Parks and Recreation earlier this month started keeping the pool open until 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.

Normal operating hours of 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. closure on weekends) will resume at the Pāhoa Community Aquatic Center starting Tuesday, January 27.

Information regarding County of Hawai‘i swimming pools is available at www.hawaiicounty.gov/pr-aquatics/.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.

16-Year-Old Girl Dies in Single-Vehicle Crash

A 16-year-old Pāhala girl died in a single-vehicle crash Wednesday night (January 14) in Pāhala.

She was identified as Leiani Camba-Penera.

Leiani Camba-Penera

Leiani Camba-Penera

Responding to a 9:21 p.m. call, police determined that a 1994 Toyota pickup truck operated by an 18-year-old Nāʻālehu man was traveling south on Route 11, seven-tenths of a mile south of the 41-mile marker, when the driver reportedly fell asleep, ran off the right shoulder and struck a utility pole.

Camba-Penera, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle. She was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 4:10 a.m. Thursday (January 15). An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

The driver was taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.

Police believe that speed and drugs may have contributed to this traffic fatality. They have initiated a negligent homicide investigation.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at 326-4646, Ext. 299. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

This is the first traffic fatality this year compared with two at this time last year.

Hawaii Parents Informed of Higher Learning Expectations for Public School Students

Public schools across the state today welcomed back students after a three-week winter break. Students were given a letter to take home to their parents as a reminder of the upcoming spring assessments for English language arts and math.

Click to read letter

Click to read letter

The new assessments, known as Smarter Balanced, are aligned to the Hawaii Common Core standards implemented statewide at the start of the school year. The letter from Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi also included sample exercises explaining how students are being asked deeper questions that require critical thinking.

“New expectations for student learning mean we need new ways to measure how our students are performing,” stated Superintendent Matayoshi. “These new tests measure not only what students know, but also how well they can apply their knowledge in real-world situations.”

Smarter Balanced assessments will be administered beginning in March to students in grades three through eighth and high school juniors to measure their reading, math, writing, listening, research and thinking skills. Hawaii is a governing member of a multi-state consortium that has worked with teachers, parents and higher education faculty to develop the Smarter Balanced assessments. Over three million students across the consortium participated in the field test last year to ensure questions are valid, reliable and fair for all students.

“While this is a step forward in our plans to raise student achievement, we expect the change to the new test will result in lower scores as compared to previous years,” said Superintendent Matayoshi. “However, because it is a new test aligned to new standards, we will not be comparing the results to that of the old test. Results from this year are a new starting point for students.”

The results also benefit teachers. The Smarter Balanced Assessment System offers information during the year to give teachers and parents a better picture of where students are thriving and where they need help.

A number of schools held Smarter Balanced parent nights with activities during the fall. The parent letter includes additional assessment examples and tips for helping with homework.

For more information on how the Hawaii State Department of Education is striving higher with new learning standards and assessments, visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org.

HEI Charitable Foundation Donates $30,000 to Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America

Hawaiian Electric Industries Charitable Foundation has contributed $30,000 to the Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

Hawaiian Electric Industries Charitable Foundation presented a $30,000 capital campaign grant to the Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America in support of the organization’s mission to develop leaders for the next generation. Pictured left to right are: Rick Blangiardi (Hawaii News Now), Barry Taniguchi (KTA Super Stores), Colin Kubota (Life Scout), Alan Oshima (Hawaiian Electric), Gabe Lee (American Savings Bank) and Jeff Sulzbach (Aloha Council, BSA). Photo courtesy of Aloha Council, BSA.

Hawaiian Electric Industries Charitable Foundation presented a $30,000 capital campaign grant to the Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America in support of the organization’s mission to develop leaders for the next generation. Pictured left to right are: Rick Blangiardi (Hawaii News Now), Barry Taniguchi (KTA Super Stores), Colin Kubota (Life Scout), Alan Oshima (Hawaiian Electric), Gabe Lee (American Savings Bank) and Jeff Sulzbach (Aloha Council, BSA). Photo courtesy of Aloha Council, BSA.

The nonprofit organization – which trains and develops youth in responsible citizenship, character development and self-reliance – will use the HEI Charitable Foundation grant to support its Developing Leaders for Life Capital Campaign. Hawaiian Electric Industries is the parent company of American Savings Bank, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light.

“The Aloha Council thanks our partners in the community, the Hawaiian Electric Companies and American Savings Bank. This grant shows their commitment to Scouting in Hawaii and the development of local boys and girls into the next generation of leaders. The grant will provide quality outdoor experiences at camp,” said Jeff Sulzbach, CEO & Scout Executive, Aloha Council, BSA.

The donation announcement was made during the Friends of Scouting Leadership Breakfast, Aloha Council BSA’s annual fund drive kick-off held on Dec. 15, 2014 at the Pacific Club. Keynote speaker Alan Oshima, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Company, launched the BSA’s 2015 campaign theme “Get Grit” by sharing his personal story of perseverance.

“Having grit, or perseverance, is important whether you’re learning how to build your first campfire or leading a customer centric organization,” said Oshima, who is overseeing the transformation of the state’s largest electricity provider into a value and results-driven energy services utility. “Scouting plays a role in equipping our youth with life lessons and leadership skills so they can persevere in the face of challenges. Hawaiian Electric applauds the Aloha Council’s commitment to positively impact Hawaii’s youth. This is a value we also share, and we are honored to partner with them in their efforts.”

“Camping and the outdoor experience are a key component of the youth scouting program so it is essential that the camp facilities are maintained and enhanced,” added Rich Wacker, president and CEO of American Savings Bank. “This grant will expand and upgrade camp facilities, which in turn will attract more attendance. ASB is proud to support the mission of the Boy Scouts to develop leaders for life.”

The Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 with help from early community leadership support. Today, the organization continues to thrive with more than 12,000 young men and women regularly engaged with nearly 5,000 volunteers on Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii Island and across the Pacific Rim.

For more information about the Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America or to make a donation to the organization, visit www.alohacouncilbsa.org.

Big Island Police Searching for 16-Year-Old Boy Missing Since August

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 16-year-old Keaʻau boy who was reported missing.

Trey Tomlinson

Trey Tomlinson

Trey Tomlinson was last seen in Hilo on August 18.

He is described as Hawaiian, 4-foot-6, 103 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Fire at Waiakea-Uka Gym Causes Change in Venue for Winter Intersession Program

The Winter Intersession Program slated for Hilo’s Stanley Costales Waiākea-Uka Gymnasium will be held at Andrews Gym due to fire damage sustained at Waiākea-Uka Gym.

Waiakea FireOriginal program dates and times will apply to the new venue located within Waiākeawaena Park at 33 West Kawailani Street in Hilo. Open to keiki enrolled in the first through six grades, the winter Intersession classes will be held from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. weekdays starting December 22 and running through January 8, 2015.

The Department of Parks and Recreation regrets any inconvenience caused by the venue change and thanks program participants for their understanding.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.

Police detectives are investigating a fire at the Waiākea Uka Gym in Hilo.

The fire was reported at approximately 4:30 a.m. Wednesday (December 10). Police and firefighters responded and found the fire concentrated at the northwest corner of the building.

Fire personnel extinguished the flames and estimated the damage to the walls and roof area at $65,000.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time but is being investigated.

Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Norbert at 961-2383 or nserrao@co.hawaii.hi.us.

 

25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings Finds Hawaii Ranks No. 1 Among All U.S. States in Overall Health

25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings Finds Hawaii Ranks No. 1 Among All U.S. States in Overall Health

Health Rankings

  • Hawaii’s strengths include low prevalence of obesity and low rate of preventable hospitalizations; state’s challenges include high prevalence of binge drinking and high incidence of infectious disease

Nationwide, reduction in smoking, and improvements in adolescent immunization and infant mortality offset by rising rates of obesity and physical inactivity

  • Long-term analysis finds Americans have made considerable progress in avoiding premature and cardiovascular deaths in the past 25 years; life expectancy at its highest yet

HONOLULU (Dec. 10, 2014) – Rising rates of obesity and physical inactivity threaten Americans’ quality of life, even as Americans progressed in several key health metrics in 2014, according to the landmark 25th Anniversary Edition of America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities.

Nationwide, obesity increased 7 percent from 27.6 percent to 29.4 percent of adults. Likewise, the percentage of adults who reported not participating in any physical activity in the last 30 days increased from 22.9 percent to 23.5 percent. At the same time, the number of Americans who smoke continued to decrease, declining by 3 percent this year, and has consistently declined over the past decade.

Hawaii’s Overall Health

According to the special 25th Edition of America’s Health Rankings, Hawaii ranks No. 1 again this year when compared with other states. The 2014 report illustrates Hawaii has its share of strengths and challenges.

Hawaii’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of obesity
  • Low rate of preventable hospitalizations
  • Low rate of cancer deaths

Hawaii’s Challenges

  • High prevalence of binge drinking
  • High incidence of infectious disease
  • Low immunization coverage among children

“Hawaii’s top ranking reflects our state’s focus on maintaining healthy lifestyles and protecting our environment,” said Acting Health Director Keith Yamamoto. “The department is pleased to see Hawaii has maintained its number- one spot from last year, however, the report also points out some areas of concern that we will continue to work to address.”

“This is encouraging news and I look forward to working with our public health and health care communities to ensure access to care and strengthen prevention efforts to reduce chronic disease and injury in our state,” Gov. David Y. Ige said. “I’m proud to say that Hawaii is the healthiest state in the nation, and we must continue to invest in our public health efforts.”

Key Hawaii Challenges Addressed by UnitedHealthcare Programs

UnitedHealthcare watches America’s Health Rankings closely to better understand the health of individuals and communities across the nation and in Hawaii. UnitedHealthcare has several programs to address the nation’s health challenges at a state level. These programs help educate people on how to live healthier lives and empower them to take action to improve health in their communities.

UnitedHealthcare’s efforts include supporting local health and community events throughout the Islands for children, families and seniors, and supporting organizations such as the local chapters of March of Dimes, YMCA and Alzheimer’s Association to help promote health and wellness for Hawaii residents.

“For the last 25 years, United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings has provided an invaluable look at the challenges and opportunities facing Hawaii and how the picture of health in our state compares with those of our region and our nation,” said Ron Fujimoto, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Hawaii. “We look forward to continuing to use the report as a key tool for identifying and implementing solutions to our most pressing challenges and measuring the strides we’ve made to date.”

UnitedHealthcare in Hawaii has more than 300 employees located on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island with central offices in Honolulu. With a care provider network of 21 hospitals and more than 2,900 physicians statewide, the health and well-being company serves more than 230,000 Hawaii residents including members of the United States military and their families, and people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare and Medicaid health plans.

50-State Snapshot: Hawaii the Healthiest; Mississippi Least Healthy

Hawaii has again taken the title of healthiest state. Vermont came in second, followed by Massachusetts, which improved to third after being ranked fourth for two years. Connecticut came in fourth, rising three slots from last year. Utah came in fifth. Mississippi ranked 50th this year, preceded by Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Kentucky (47) and Oklahoma (46). West Virginia and Alabama moved out of the bottom five.

To see the Rankings in full, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

Nationwide: Obesity and Physical Inactivity Increase after Short-Lived Improvements

“We applaud hard-won advances in several key measures, including smoking prevalence, even as this year’s America’s Health Rankings is a solemn reminder that we have a lot more work ahead of us,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “It is inevitable that increases in the rates of obesity and physical inactivity will result in more people suffering from significant chronic diseases that will compromise the quality of their lives, adversely affect their families and will be unaffordable for the nation.”

United Health Foundation is marking 25 years of America’s Health Rankings by introducing new online tools to inspire health advocacy across states and communities.

  • A “Change My Rank” online tool allows users to see how improving several key measures affects the state’s overall rank (for example, if a state reduced its prevalence of obesity by 5 percent, what would its overall rank be?).
  •  A Thought Leader Perspectives portal showcases notable leaders from the public health, government, academic, business, technology and consumer arenas reflecting on the achievements and challenges in America’s health over the last 25 years, and their thoughts for the next 25 years.

United Health Foundation will discuss the 25th edition Rankings at an event Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The event will feature remarks from leading health experts and thoughtful conversation about the past, present and future of America’s health. To watch the event live – and to get more information about America’s Health Rankings – visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

25th Anniversary Report Reveals Major Long-Term Health Strides, Challenges

With the launch of this year’s report, America’s Health Rankings commemorates 25 years of comprehensive health reporting and advocacy for a healthier America. The special 25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings report finds Americans have made meaningful strides in health since 1990, particularly as it relates to life expectancy:

  • At 78.8 years, Americans’ average life expectancy is at a record high.
  • The past 25 years have seen considerable declines in:

o            infant mortality, decreasing 41 percent

o            cardiovascular death, decreasing 38 percent

o            premature death, decreasing  20 percent

  • U.S. cancer mortality rates have also shown a steady decline, dropping 8 percent between 1996 and 2014.

The decline in smoking rates stands out as a significant health improvement over the past 25 years. Since 1990, smoking rates have decreased 36 percent, from 29.5 percent to 19 percent of adults who smoke regularly. Cigarette smoking is still associated with one of every five deaths in the United States, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country.

While Americans are living longer, the past 25 years have seen a steady rise in chronic conditions, many of them preventable, that compromise their quality of life.

  • Obesity – now a leading contributor to death in the United States – more than doubled over the last 25 years, from 11.6 percent of adults in 1990 to 29.4 percent of adults today. One possible explanation for the increase: levels of physical inactivity remain high, with 23.5 percent of adults reporting no physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days.
  • Adults who say they have diabetes currently stands at 9.6 percent, more than double the number from 20 years ago when America’s Health Rankings first started tracking diabetes.

“The challenge for the next 25 years is to achieve widespread, uniform success in fighting the chronic conditions that threaten Americans’ quality of life and adversely affect our nation’s health care system,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “Obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity rates are troublingly high. We must continue to promote positive health behaviors and help prevent the devastating consequences of chronic illnesses that are often left unchecked.”

Hilo Folks are Big Spenders During the Holidays

Yep… us folks in Hilo are big spenders come Christmas time.  According to Nerdwallet, Hilo ranks 2nd in the most expensive places for holiday spending.

The average family in Hilo spends about $1,172.02 during the holidays.  The national average for a family of four is $877.22.

spending

THINK Fund at HCF – Grant Opportunities Available for Big Island

The newly formed THINK (The Hawai‘i Island New Knowledge) Fund at Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) was started by the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Observatory to better prepare Hawai‘i Island students to pursue STEM-(science, technology, engineering, and math) related professions through community grants and scholarships.

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT has committed a minimum contribution of $750,000 per year to THINK Fund at HCF. This commitment is for the life of the Mauna Kea sublease with the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo.

“HCF is thankful to TMT for providing this opportunity for the community and to the dedicated volunteer advisory committee members who have worked hard to determine the best way for the fund to benefit Hawai‘i Island,” stated Kelvin Taketa, president & CEO of Hawai‘i Community Foundation. “By improving STEM education and increasing the number of students going into STEM careers, it will make a difference for our local economy and build the confidence of our youth that there is a bright future for creative and hardworking students.”

THINK Fund at HCF’s focus is to support and encourage Hawai‘i Island students to pursue STEM-related professions. These are lucrative and growing career fields where by 2017, the STEM-related jobs across all industries in Hawai‘i are estimated to increase to 63,000, which means the state needs approximately 16,500 more workers with STEM skills annually. However, Hawai‘i is not currently producing enough graduates in STEM fields locally to fill jobs.

The initial strategic goals for THINK Fund at HCF are to:

  • Increase the number of Hawai‘i Island students who are inspired to pursue postsecondary STEM fields of study
  • Increase the number of Hawai‘i Island students who complete STEM degree and training programs
  • Increase the number of effective STEM teachers on Hawai‘i Island
  • Increase the number of effective STEM programs on Hawai‘i Island that also promote cultural competency or place-based learning

HCF staff based on Hawai‘i Island will implement the strategy and grantmaking of THINK Fund at HCF, which is guided by an advisory committee of Hawai‘i Island residents. The advisory committee currently includes Laurie Ainslie, Roberta Chu, Mary Correa, Kaeo Duarte, Hiapo Perreira, Doug Simons, and Barry Taniguchi.

“As a lifelong educator, I am known to say ‘If can, can. If no can, how can?’ THINK Fund at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation provides our Hawai‘i Island students and educators with a wonderful ‘how can’ opportunity to reach to the stars, literally,” said Mary Correa, advisory committee member for THINK Fund at HCF and Complex Area Superintendent for Kau-Keaau-Pāhoa. “Through this support, our young people will have the opportunity to be inspired, be prepared to participate in the world-class discovery that occurs on our own island, and allows us to keep more of our homegrown talent on island to raise their families and contribute to the community.”

THINK Fund at HCF will support important steps for students along the “cradle-to-career” STEM education pathway. For more information on any of the grant or scholarship opportunities and to apply, visit www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/THINKFund. Grantmaking from the fund will focus in three areas:

  • Learning Grants to nonprofit organizations or schools – Grants are available for nonprofits or schools to provide in-school, intersession or afterschool STEM learning experiences for K-12 students that integrate Hawai‘i’s cultural context or promote place-based learning opportunities. Grants can also provide training or professional development for teachers to increase content knowledge and pedagogy in STEM subjects. The online THINK Fund application opened on December 1, 2014 and the deadline to apply is January 30, 2015.
  • Educator Grants for teachers – Grants are available to support Hawai‘i Island public and charter school teachers of grades 6 through 12 who have projects that encourage STEM learning. Teachers who submit proposals to DonorsChoose.org and are eligible to receive support for classroom materials, supplies, guest speaker expenses, or on-island field trips for their students. THINK Fund at HCF will provide grants for all but $100 for qualified projects that are less than $2,500. The application opened on November 24, and in just one week, the program funded nine projects at five Hawai‘i Island schools with over $11,187, that will impact over 1,100 students. A completed list of projects can be found at http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/matching.html?id=20516351&historical=true
  • College Scholarships for students – Hawai‘i Island students interested in pursuing a STEM career with the intention of working or teaching on the island are encouraged to apply. The online application for scholarships opened on December 1, 2014, and closes on February 19, 2015. By completing the application, students will be matched to multiple scholarship opportunities. THINK Fund at HCF will award scholarships in two areas:
  • Undergraduates or graduate level degrees, certificates or other professional development coursework to become a STEM educator on Hawai‘i Island.  Current educators or students working to towards a teaching degree that want to teach STEM subjects or professionals in a STEM-related field that would like to teach are encouraged to apply.
  • Degrees or certificates in STEM-related fields being completed by students from Hawai‘i Island. There is a wide range of STEM-related studies students can pursue that will qualify for these scholarships.

“We very excited and gratified that THINK Fund at HCF has been launched,” said Sandra Dawson, TMT Manager Hawai’i Community Affairs. “It is the beginning of our many-year commitment to STEM education on Hawaii Island, and is also the culmination of years of work by a hard-working and dedicated group of local citizens who provided the philosophy and goals of THINK Fund. We are also very happy to be in partnership with HCF and the very impressive, multi-talented advisory committee who is guiding this effort.”

Initially established by TMT, THINK Fund at HCF is designed to encourage and attract other funders who align with the mission and goal to improve STEM education and strengthen Hawai‘i Island’s workforce. The vision of this collaborative approach is to bring together the island community with funders in a partnership that strives to help Hawai‘i Island students in the long term. THINK Fund is one of several funds, initiatives, partnerships, and programs at HCF dedicated to supporting students and the STEM fields in Hawai‘i.

Saturday – Pāhoa Holiday Parade and Ho’olau’lea

The Pāhoa Holiday Parade and Ho’olau’lea is this Saturday, December 6 on Pāhoa Village Road starting at Pāhoa High School at 9:30am and continuing to Post Office Road. Our theme is “Pāhoa, Center of the Punaverse”.

This year’s Grand Marshall is Mayor Billy Kenoi.

Santa at the 2013 Parade

Santa at the 2013 Parade

Road closure for the parade route will occur at 9am so people are encouraged to get their cars parked before the closure if they want to be in the heart of the action. The County will open the parking lots at the Neighborhood Facility and the Swimming Pool at 7am. There is no street parking available along the parade route.

Senator Joy Buenaventura at the 2013 Parade.

House Rep. Joy SanBuenaventura at the 2013 Parade.

Immediately following the parade, there will be a Ho’olau’lea in the heart of Pāhoa with a vendor fair, FREE Santa photos for all keiki, entertainment, the Sacred Heart Holiday Fair and merchant specials.

 

MainStreet Pāhoa Association is committed to helping our communities enhance the economic vitality and quality of life of Pāhoa and Lower Puna. We are actively involved with the Mayor’s Office, Civil Defense, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the County Council and our state legislators as well as the Visitor’s Bureau.
Come out and join us in celebration of Pāhoa, Center of the Punaverse.

Hawaii Lawmaker Calls In National Baby Safe Haven Cavalry

Vice Speaker John Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Lower Kalihi) announced today that he has contacted the Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend national awareness campaign to promote the State’s Baby Safe Haven Law.

baby safe

Vice Speaker Mizuno has reached out and secured the assistance of the Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend national awareness campaign, based in Boston, Massachusetts, for support of  a major youth driven, technologically enhanced campaign to inform half a million people in Hawaii of the State’s Baby Safe Haven Law.

According to Mizuno, “I contacted Jean and Mike Morrisey, the Directors of the Baby Safe Haven national campaign. We have an excellent relationship and they helped us pass our Baby Safe Haven law back in 2007. In the wake of a newborn baby found dead in a Waikiki hotel, could we have saved the life of that innocent newborn and kept the Mom from prosecution?”

The Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend campaign concurred with Vice Speaker Mizuno on an ambitious, coordinated campaign lead by their over a dozen professional young spokespeople is what it will take to get our message to radio stations of all genres, news stations, and newspapers from high school publications to the major daily press.  With heightened awareness of the Hawaii Baby Safe Haven Law the message will carry over to the tourism sector, as well military families and incoming students. “Our goal is to inform a half a million people in the State of Hawaii, within weeks, of the Baby Safe Haven Law” said Mizuno. “We don’t want to have another baby abandoned again.”

In 2007, Rep. Mizuno’s first year in office, he introduced HB1830 (passed into law as Act 7), to save the lives of newborn babies from abandonment and ultimately death. Act 7 provides immunity from prosecution for leaving an unharmed newborn baby at certain baby safe havens, such as a hospital, fire station, police station, or with emergency medical services personnel (EMS), within 72 hours of birth.  The measure also provides immunity from liability for personnel at the safe havens receiving a newborn baby.

Vice Speaker John Mizuno has received the personal video messages of several of the nation’s top Baby Safe Haven spokespeople/advocates who have made hundreds of media appearances in several regions across the country. The following are links to videos by Viennie V and Despina Drougas in response to the recent tragedy at a Waikiki hotel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEhIupI9sVg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LZiZZ0IYyU

Mizuno provided the following statement, “Government has a responsibility to ensure the safety of every single citizen and person in Hawaii and it is absolutely crucial for our government to do everything in its power to save and preserve their lives.  This law is targeted at saving our newborn babies, the most vulnerable and innocent among us.” Mizuno added “Abandoned babies are a worldwide issue, and I am grateful for all the support we received in Hawaii from baby safe haven advocates from across the country. I am especially grateful for the Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend national awareness campaign’s assistance, as well as his youthful and talented team of spokespersons who have been so willing to donate their time and talent to save the lives of newborn babies, and help their peers to make proper decisions in a time of crisis.”