By Nicholette Mukai, Program Coordinator in Hilo for the Ka’i Like Program
Welcome to Hilo’s newest Mentor, Phil Underhile. Phil has worked with teens for 20 plus years and resides on the Hamakua Coast, bringing a wealth of experience and increasing our service area.
Thankfully, increase in staff also means an increase in the number of KLP youth and opportunities to build relationships and positive thinking. Over Winter Break, we hosted a series of WHY TRY Corrections sessions, which is a curriculum developed specifically for juvenile justice youth. The curriculum challenges the participant to internalize positive thinking and healthy decision making. Since then, several youth have shared how they have used the curriculum. One mentioned positive thinking in an essay written for her probation officer, and one youth reflected after a detrimental decision, saying that he let himself sink into the “flood zone” and didn’t reach out to “life lines” for support. As Mentors, these encouraging glimmers of hope and growth fuel the soul and remind us why we do what we do.
Our families often need to share in some of that encouraging glimmer, so we host a semi-annual family gathering to inspire hope and cultivate positive family interactions. Last Fall, families brought a special family dish to a potluck and shared the significance of that dish. Then families created Thanksgiving Trees with leaves containing “I am thankful” statements. In the Spring, families will gather for a trust building egg hunt and dinner. During each family activity, Mentors share glimmers of hope with the families by verbalizing positives about each youth.
Hope is what keeps families going in dark times. Hope is the flame KLP fans into fire.