In Your Corner

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of columns about youth welfare on the island.

We’ll begin “In Your Corner” with a question from a woman who chooses to remain anonymous.

She writes: “First of all, I am concerned about my first cousin who just turned 17 and is still repeating the freshman year. His parents are separated and I am related to his father. I haven’t spoken to my cousin yet, but I am preparing to confront him, and need guidance to see if I can influence some words to him that he needs to go to school. I already sent an interest in the Hawaii Army National Guard Youth Challenge program on O‘ahu, but is there anything on Kaua‘i? Your response will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.”

Annaleah Atkinson of Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i’s Teen Court program forwarded this question to Pat Fleck from county Office of Economic Development and the Kaua‘i Workforce Investment Board Youth Council. She replied:

“We do have the About Face program here on Kaua‘i, which is run by the National Guard. The contact person is Lahea Salazar, 823-6077, or lsalazar@paxen.com.

“Please call her and explain your situation, and I’m sure she can be of assistance and provide information and guidance. You can tell her I referred you. Take good care and hang in there!!! All the best. Aloha.”

With the summer coming, youth will have more time on their hands for recreation, discovery, and education.

There is a Web site which may help children plan their vacations.

It is healthy to be creative, and to want to explore different things, and also to relax and have fun sometimes.

When youth have a goal of something they’d like to accomplish for the summer, and some support in doing it, they’ll have a more successful summer than if they are just left to “cruise,” as children are fond of saying.

Just cruising can lead to boredom and, sometimes, mischief.

Spray-painting graffiti, or damaging public or private property, is classified as criminal property damage, and is a misdemeanor if the damage is $1,500 or less.

Above $1,500 it becomes a felony. “Restitution” is a word that means paying for the restoration of damages occurred.

If a child causes $1,000 worth of damage, it would take him or her 125 hours, or just over three weeks at 40 hours a week paid $8 per hour to earn $1,000.

However, as children find out when they begin working, they have to pay taxes on that money, and so it will take longer. And what could a teen buy for that $1,000 that now must go toward restitution?

We all become victims of criminal property damage if it occurs at a public place. It costs a lot to repair damage. A special light could cost about $200 if it was broken, and the labor to repair it could be another $50.

That could be the cost of the new swing that the park needed for the children, or the money that was going to repair the broken water fountain.

Having light is a safety issue, and therefore takes precedence over the swing, or the water fountain that everyone appreciates so much on a hot day.

Ask youth what they’d like to do with their summer. Many activities are offered free of charge, or on a sliding scale fee.

The Kauai Youth Directory at www.kauaiyouthdirectory.com lists a wide range of activities, from athletics to camps to leisure activities. These include the Kauai voyaging canoe, ropes courses, arts, swimming, culture, and much more.

It is one of the tasks of adolescence to find one’s talents, gifts, passions, and special abilities, and how to build them into one’s life. The summer is a perfect time.

“In Your Corner” is a phrase that means support. Its origin comes from boxing. In between rounds, the boxer retires to his corner, and a group of people coach him, give him medical help, water, and cheer him on.

Several adults have “stepped into the corner” for Kaua‘i teens, to answer questions and give support in the boxing ring of life.

They include K.C. Lum, Kaua‘i Police Department chief; Catherine Stovall, community response specialist, County of Kaua‘i; Edmund Acoba, public defender, Craig De Costa, county prosecuting attorney; and Atkinson.

• Questions for this column may be e-mailed to Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org, or sent through the U.S. Postal Service to her at Annaleah Atkinson, 2959 ‘Umi St., Lihu‘e, HI 96766. She will forward them to the one who can most appropriately answer them. There is also a toll-free Teen Hotline, 1-877-521-8336.

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