By Nicholette Mukai, Program Coordinator for Hilo Ka’i Like & Aftercare Monitoring
Kentucky Fried Chicken. Shaved Ice. Burger King. You’ve all been to these at least once. Most Hilo Ka’i Like Program (KLP) youth have not. Prior to KLP services, most probation youth have not experienced the simple pleasures of life that build the human spirit, including hearing those three powerful words: I love you. Intensive Monitors understand this all too well and go out of their way to show KLP youth that they are valuable to their communities and are worth time and energy. This quarter Intensive Monitors facilitated two activities to increase youths’ self-worth and build life skills: Girls’ Night Out and Culinary Classes.
Girls’ Night Out began with conversations and ideas about helping the young women feel valuable and worthy of respect. Macy’s graciously facilitated a spa day for the girls that included manicures and haircuts and hair styling, along with MAC makeovers. Body language and huge smiles communicated that the girls felt beautiful and cared for. To complete the day the girls had dinner with KLP staff, where they were showered with gift bags and a lovely meal. At dinner they shared that they were overwhelmed with emotions due to the fact that strangers would bless them so graciously.
During the month of June, youth were given the opportunity to participate in a series of Culinary Arts Classes that ran every Tuesday for 4 weeks. There’s something about food and gathering around food that communicates aloha, both from the one preparing and to those receiving. Three recent graduates of the Hawaii Community College Culinary Arts Program donated their time to share their love of cooking with the youth. Grace Baptist Church graciously allowed the youth to use their kitchen and Hawaii Food Basket helped with supplies. Youth learned how to prepare a food item in different ways during each class period and were able to partake of their hard work. Youth made bread pudding, deviled eggs, boiled eggs, omelettes, pizza, SOS, stuffing, meatloaf and sauce, chicken parmesan, chocolate chip cookie, ice cream sandwiches, homemade biscuits, and sugar cookies from scratch and decorative icing. Youth are proud of their accomplishments and have verbalized surprise that they enjoyed learning how to prepare food. Some have already tried to reproduce the dishes for their families. To conclude the class, youth will be cooking a meal for the instructors and expressing aloha for their time and support.
Pro-social activities like these have helped KLP youth to grow in self-confidence, self-value, and positive community relationships. Youth have stated that Ka’i Like Program activities are much more fun than they thought possible and have verbalized appreciation for providing activities for them to socialize and be around positive people who encourage them and believe in them. Perhaps we should rename Intensive Monitors; a more fitting title may be, Spirit Builder.
Sneak peek into the future:
- Youth have been given the opportunity to attend a week long teen camp held on Mauna Kea. Camp staff members are positive, patient, and will provide fun activities for the youth. Youth will learn how to work with others as a cabin and also as a team for team competitions. Community members and a local church have donated scholarships ($200 p/wk), so that youth are able to attend for free. Some youth will be attending two weeks of camp.
- Waipi’o Valley cultural community service project at the end of July.
- Youth will have opportunity to participate in fall gardening project to begin in August.
- Art classes during Fall Break 2014.
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