More than 300 students from Waimea, Kaua‘i and Kapa‘a high schools converged to hear messages on making the right choices yesterday.
Opening with a performance from the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center’s “Lifetime Stand band,” several of the group’s members talked of their own experiences.
“Listen to what people tell you,” one of the inmates told the gathering of students. “My daughter is out there among you. Ask her what it’s like.”
He further went on to note several people in the community whose lives were affected by his choices … choices that eventually landed him behind bars where he has been for nine years now.
Another inmate added the appreciation of being able to walk through any door, to make choices of when to leave, where to go — choices that are not available when incarcerated.
“I was like you. I made those gestures and said things I thought was cool,” the inmate said. “But look at where I am. It’s not cool.”
Kaua‘i Mayor Bryan Baptiste was there, observing student reactions.
Next to him, Kaua‘i Area Complex Superintendent Daniel Hamada was interested in how the students would take the messages presented to them.
“It’s hard work,” said one of the students who served on the organizing committee, about the event. “We have a lot of meetings and need to coordinate everything.”
The student organizers were manning a table offering a variety of resources available to people combating substance abuse problems, offering help in making choices.
Marty Dread of Maui was in attendance as he’s been at several of the previous youth summits.
“Somehow, the young people are attracted to me,” he said. “It’s kind of like a Pied Piper. But if I can use that to help the kids make the right choices, I’ll keep on doing it.”
Dread was one of the featured speakers of the breakout sessions as well as a highlighted performer at the end of the summit.
One of the facets of this year’s summit was the addition of “vendor presentations” during the breakout sessions.
Set up in one of the smaller meeting rooms at the Kaua‘i Marriott, representatives from a variety of community agencies were on hand to chat with summit delegates on a more personal level as well as offer advice and material to people looking for resources.
“Theresa Koki (Kaua‘i County anti-drug coordinator) needed help, so I came out of retirement,” said Leah Scovel, one of the chaperones for the day.
Scovel was one of about six family home care providers who were honored for their contribution to the community during an Early Childhood Educators dinner Saturday night.
“As I said then, ‘It’s all for the kids,’” Scovel said.