Photo: JABSOM haumāna
JABSOM haumāna participate in a service-learning workday at Papahana Kuaola in Kāneʻohe. Pictured (L-R): Jenna Maligro, James DeJesus IV, Elliot Koshi, LeShay Keliʻiholokai (JABSOM research assistant), Jason Lee, Trevor McCracken, Alyssa Becker, Abigail Bautista, a Papahana Kuaola staff member, Kamuela Andrade and Amelia Hummel. - Photos: Courtesy

By Dr. Martina L. Kamaka

The entry of COVID-19 upended all of our world, including schools everywhere. JABSOM (the John A. Burns School of Medicine) was no exception. Our community health programs were hit particularly hard, as many of them involved first-year medical students going into local communities to do four hours of service-learning on an almost weekly basis. The community health elective, “Native Hawaiian Health Past, Present, Future” is one of those JABSOM community health programs.

Photo: JABSOM Students
The students weed a mala (garden) to kōkua the Kāko‘o ‘Ōiwi program in Heʻeia. ‘Āina-based learning is a key part of the community health elective class.

The course provides educational opportunities for medical students to gain a holistic understanding of Native Hawaiian health and wellness, health disparities and healthcare practices. Experiential community and ʻāina-based learning is emphasized. For example, students spend time with traditional healers and cultural consultants, explore traditional resource management by working in loʻi kalo (taro patch) or loko iʻa (fishpond), and are presented with the latest research on Native Hawaiian health disparities and other community efforts addressing health.

An annual activity involves health education lessons designed for Ke Kula ʻo Samuel M. Kamakau, a Hawaiian Language Immersion public charter school, and previous lessons included health related topics such as nutrition, exercise and dental health. The students planned their visit to Kamakau for last April, but the state-wide shut down required an adjustment of plans.

The nine students enrolled in the course, Kamuela Andrade, Abigail Bautista, Alyssa Becker, Amelia Hummel, James DeJesus IV, Elliot Koshi, Jason Lee, Jenna Maligro and Trevor McCracken, came up with the idea of making educational videos for the students that address issues pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Four topics were chosen: General Overview of COVID-19, Proper Handwashing, Masking and Social Distancing, and “Staying Active at Home,” an exercise video that includes a yoga session. Medical student Jenna Maligro and JABSOM Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence (NHCOE) research assistant, LeShay Keliʻiholokai, were editors for the project.

The videos were completed using the English language. Because they were originally designed for the use of Kamakau school, which is a Hawaiian language immersion school, the videos were translated into Hawaiian. This made it a truly community project with volunteer translators contibuting many additional hours to kōkua.

Contacts at Kamakau, Ānuenue Public Charter School, NHCOE and UH Mānoa also recruited family and friends to help. The end result is a collection of four videos, each with two different versions: one in English and the other with either Hawaiian voice-overs or Hawaiian subtitles.

Although the videos involved a lot of hard work and creativity, the project proved to be a most worthwhile endeavor. “The video project was a great opportunity for me to do something fun with my own keiki while teaching them a little about the current pandemic,” said Samuel Kamuela Andrade. “And when the final touches were made by our editors and the great young ʻōlelo speakers, the videos came out even better than we expected. It was really a team collaboration all the way around and my family and I were just happy to be a part of it.”

“The process of making educational videos for the keiki about COVID-19 was fun, yet challenging,” adds Jenna Maligro. “I enjoyed the creative process and figuring out entertaining ways to present relevant information. During this pandemic, our responsibility as medical students is to provide knowledge and education to our community. This project gave us an opportunity to play a role in educating our keiki about COVID-19, while having fun along the way.”

“Having watched my fair share of online educational videos (i.e., Khan Academy), it was fun to make our own version for the kids,” reflects Elliott Koshi. “While I am in no way an expert on COVID-19, I hope that our video not only teaches them about the virus, but also sparks an interest in the medical field.”

The faculty and students at JABSOM are excited to get these educational videos out to schools as the new school year is starting, and proud to offer ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi versions as well. In light of the increasing cases of COVID-19 in our communities, the lessons in the videos remain relevant and important for all of Hawaiʻi’s children.


Dr. Martina Leialoha Kamaka is a Native Hawaiian Family Physician and Associate Professor in the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, John A. Burns School of Medicine. She is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools, the University of Notre Dame and the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Her professional interests lie in the areas of cultural competency training as well as Native Hawaiian and Indigenous health.

View JABSOM’s COVID-19 Educational Videos

Check out the videos on YouTube