E Mau ana ka Hoʻoilina o Liliʻu


Photo: Andy Frias

By Andrew Frias

“Mālama ʻia nā pono o ka ʻāina e nā ʻōpio;
The traditions of the land are perpetuated by its young people.”

Liliʻuokalani Trust (LT) has been hard at work on its 2045 Strategic Plan, spanning Early Childhood (ages 0-5), Youth Development (ages 6-18), and Opportunity Youth Services (ages 16-26).

Built on a foundation of social services and community impact, the Hawaiʻi Island Youth Development (YD) team approaches healing for kamaliʻi and their ‘ohana through pro-social engagement, deeply rooted in the reciprocity of teaching and learning.

Programs are typically for youth who experience limited access to economic necessities, normalized childhood poverty, and/or those who live in rural/remote areas. The island is well-represented, with participants coming from each of the six moku: Hilo, Puna, Hāmākua, Kohala, Kona, and Kaʻū.

COVID-19 sharpened our skills in innovative program delivery. While in-person programming is tremendously impactful, a hybrid model of online engagement that builds up to face-to-face interaction also has its merits.

Photo: Youth participating in LT’s 3-month-long Mana Music Camp on Hawaiʻi Island
Youth participating in LT’s 3-month-long Mana Music Camp on Hawaiʻi Island were exposed to a variety of string instruments, as well as singing, modern dance and digital media. -Photo: Liliʻuokalani Trust

One recent program, Mana Music Camp, brought 60 youth together in a virtual space, meeting weekly for three months. They learned singing, ʻukulele, violin, cello, modern dance, and digital media, all of which were grounded in the Queen’s mele and beloved attributes. These Zoom lessons offered an outlet for creative expression and promoted self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, pilina-building, and responsible decision-making.

In March 2022, the same 60 youth participated in a culminating “Queen’s Jubilee Camp” held on the Queen’s ʻāina in Keahuolū, Kona. This five-day, four-night immersive learning experience enabled youth to dive deeper into their craft, adding layers to their experience and expertise! As with our traditions of old, the youth revealed their learning through a hōʻike (performance) for their ʻohana and friends.

As a community organization with a vision of E Nā Kamalei Lupalupa, Thriving Hawaiian Children, we know our work must be intentional, reflective and inherently “Hawaiʻi.”

We hope the impacts of this work will resonate with those we serve and will result in continued innovations to our service delivery. Even more so, the impact we feel and understand each day is in the realization that we have a rich heritage and legacy to perpetuate.

Wehe ke ala, the path is clear.

Andrew “Andy” Frias is part of the Hawaiʻi Island Youth Development Team for Liliʻuokalani Trust which includes: Landon Chinen, Jaysha Alonzo-Estrada, Maeʻole Quanan, Kāwika Urakami and intern Kinohi Malani. With a collective background in public health, social work, education, and systems change, Hawaiʻi Island programming addresses urgent needs through transformative opportunity.