KAPA‘A — When Jahzeiah Belt and his group of skateboarding friends arrived Saturday, they wondered what was up.
“I had heard about it, but I thought we could skate,” said Kana‘i Aupuni Oliver, one of the skateboarders.
Instead the skateboarding park was filled with three dozen students from the Leadership Kaua‘i youth group Pi‘ina Hoku, and more students from the community.
Mason Chock, the youth director for Leadership Kaua‘i, met little resistance from the young skateboarders as he explained the situation.
Instead, the skaters carefully put their gear away and lost little time joining the other community volunteers.
“Uncle Mason told me about this, so I came,” said Clifton Dasalia, a Kapa‘a Middle School seventh-grader.
He was working alongside several other Kapa‘a Middle Schoolers who painted the topside of one of the skateboard ramps in preparation for detailing.
“We have two artists who came out to work with the students, too,” Chock said.
Megan O’Connell was working with a group in creating a Hawaiian flag motif on one of the ramps while Kaylen Spears brought in another group to sketch out a breaking wave on another ramp.
“This is real colorful,” said Bill Troutman, one of the adult volunteers.
Troutman’s daughter Caroline was fully engaged in painting out a red, yellow and green ramp while passing motorists stopped to video the proceedings.
Troutman said the project was intended to give the students a sense of ownership over the skate park.
More community volunteers were working on painting over graffiti at the bathroom facilities.
“We wanted to paint the dugouts, too,” Troutman said. “We have enough paint.”
But that would have to wait for another day as the Kaua‘i Senior Softballers were having their season play.
“This is absolutely a really good thing,” said John Ochoco, a retired educator and a softball player from the Lihu‘e A’s.
“Now, maybe when these young people see other young people do graffiti, they’ll get mad since they know how much work it takes to clean up.”
Troutman was trying to figure out how to cover up the dirt berms leading to the tops of the skateboard ramps.
“They need to use it (the berms), but there’s got to be a way to keep the mud from getting over the new paint,” he said.
“Gravel won’t work. Maybe somebody out there has an idea.”
Tim Bynum, executive director for Leadership Kaua‘i, was also on hand, busy recording images for the newsletter.
“This is just one service project,” he said. “Later, we will have another project where the youth group Pi‘ina Hoku, translated to mean ‘Rising Stars,’ get to host a skate contest here.”
In the meantime, painters Tayni Hashimoto, Kyra and Caitlin Caberto, all juniors at Kapa‘a High School, found that repainting graffiti was not a fast-moving job as they stopped to accept the thanks and words of appreciation from the seniors who came by to use the restrooms.