Molokai Youth Summit encourages youth to adopt healthy lifestyles.
By Melissa Kelsey
There are physical aspects to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but there are spiritual and educational aspects as well – a lesson that was a common theme at the April 10 Molokai Youth Summit at Kulana `Oiwi in Kaunakakai. For the Good Friday event, 77 young people of Molokai gathered for a full day of workshops and presentations taught by respected native Hawaiians. The event was geared toward seventh through 12th-graders, but the community event attracted members of the entire `ohana.
“We wanted to give our kids on Molokai knowledge and skills from other native Hawaiians who are successful,” said Mokehana Spencer, Assistant Coordinator at Na Pu`uwai Native Hawaiian Care System, who helped organize the event.
Encouraging young people to stand up for their own beliefs instead of being negatively influenced by their environment was another purpose of the event, according to Jossette Mawae Mollena, Program Coordinator at the Molokai Tobacco Free Coalition, who spearheaded the program.
The summit’s master of ceremonies was nationally well-known performer Augie T, who Mollena said was chosen because he is an example of a native Hawaiian who became successful by focusing on his strengths instead of his weaknesses.
For the morning, participants could choose three out of seven workshops offered. The choices were Health Careers; Health Issues; Self Identity and Self Esteem; Physical Competency; Self Expression through Music; Self Alignment through Lua; and Choices, Consequences and Rewards. During the afternoon, the youth had opportunities to try basket weaving, frame making, TurboKick, and jewelry making.
As an example of the workshops’ focus on holistic health and Hawaiian culture, “Self Alignment through Lua” introduced students to the Hawaiian martial art form. Lua involves more than just combat, according to Sonny Kaulukukui, a martial artist who taught the workshop.
“Lua is like a university with different departments,” said Kaulukukui, as he explained the elements of lua to the youth in attendance.
On a physical level, practitioners need kupele, or nutrition, so that they do not quickly become tired during combat. However, the spiritual facets to lua are just as important as the physical aspects, Kaulukukui told the students.
At the close of the Molokai Youth Summit, attendees filled out an evaluation of the event to qualify for a drawing for prizes.
“The youth enjoyed themselves,” said Mollena. “They hope it will be an annual event.”
The prizes included gift certificates, a fishing pole, snorkeling equipment, an iPod, a digital camera, and DVDs.
The Molokai Youth Summit was funded by the Molokai Tobacco Free Coalition, Papa Ola Lokahi, and Na Pua No`eau. Other partnering organizations were Na Pu`uwai Native Hawaiian Care System, Alu Like Inc. and Queen Liliuokalani Children Center. Individuals who made significant contributions to organize the event were Jossette Mawae Mollena, LorrieAnn Santos, Mikiala Pescaia, Judy Mikami, Mokehana Spencer, Cammy Napoleon, Barbara Kalipi, and Kekama Helm.