Students take advantage of county Winter Fun program

“My New Year’s resolution is to get good grades,” said Donald Traller, a fifth-grader. “Mine is to listen to my parents,” said Kekoa Cabinatan, also a fifth-grader.

These boys participated in the Winter Fun Program at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center for students ages 5 through 11 sponsored by the County of Kaua‘i.

The program drew about 75 enrollees with an average daily attendance of 60, said program site manager Carly Ibara. The program was created, she said, to accommodate families because schools are now on the same calendar with a three-week winter vacation.

“It’s hard on parents; there’re hardly any programs for kids during the breaks,” said parent Allen Yangco. “At least there’s this … I just wish it were longer.”

Yangco’s second-grade son, Jonathan, said he liked everything about the program.

Cindy Duterte, Kaua‘i County Executive on Recreation, said their winter, spring and summer fun programs are in response to the needs of the community.

“We always get calls whenever there is a break in school. You cannot go wrong. It’s a wonderful program,” Duterte said.

She said they look for young local kids to hire to run the programs at the different sites, especially college kids coming back home during their breaks.

The New Year’s resolutions were part of the art activities for the day planned by Ibara.

Ibara worked in the summer fun program for four years, so was enthused about the winter fun program. She is a senior at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, majoring in elementary education. “The winter fun program has been very good training,” she said.

Ibara had five staff members who took charge of three groups of children, divided by age levels. The groups rotated among arts, crafts and aerobics in the mornings. The afternoons were dedicated to free play and movies. Wednesdays were excursion days. On an excursion to Po‘ipu Beach Park, the children participated in a beach clean-up before heading for the water. A turtle sunning itself on the beach provided the children with an extra treat.

Fred Wong said his second-grade daughter Kylie enjoyed the program: “Her friends are here; the people in charge are attentive; she’s happy, I’m happy.”

First-graders Braven DeCosta and Breeze Pavao said they had fun. DeCosta said he liked playing with the balls the best. Pavao said she enjoyed playing with her friends and cousins.

Wyatt Pimental, a second-grader, said he liked playing in the gym.

Fifth-grader Marissa Ruiz said she liked watching movies and doing the art work.

Ashley Serraon was the only high school student among fellow staff members Fiana and Falefia Moe, Brandee Cox-Abuan and Lillian Sarmiento.

Junior Leaders included Ellene Ruiz-Farias, an eighth-grader, and seventh-grader Kylie Silva. Silva said he wanted to get out of the house and do something. He chose the Winter Fun program because his brother attended, so he knew he could be helpful and have fun at the same time.

The program had a volunteer helper, Aryana Ozaki, a ninth-grader. She said she enjoyed having something to do during the holidays.

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