County recognizes summer fun leaders

LIHUE — The County of Kauai, for the first time, took time out to recognize and acknowledge the efforts of leaders for its Summer Enrichment Program.

“These individuals made a positive impact on the 700 keiki between the ages of 5 through 11 years old,” said Ian Costa, the Parks and Recreation department deputy director. “These individuals are the Top 7 of the nearly 100 employees hired to run the Summer Enrichment Program.”

Jennifer Arruda, one of the student hires, said the program honored one teacher, two site leaders and four recreational aides for their work in the Summer Enrichment Program, more traditionally referred to as “summer fun.”

Joni Keamoai of the Kekaha Neighborhood Center is the recipient of the “Excellence in Teaching” award, recognized for utilizing innovative teaching techniques which are intellectually stimulating, and providing active engagement in the learning process.

Costa said the award seeks to recognize a teacher who is creative, passionate, and has made a positive impact on the lives of the participants who attend the Summer Enrichment Program.

Tryson Tango and Kahai Hosaka, both of the Kekaha Neighborhood Center site, were awarded the “Outstanding Leadership” awards, recognized for demonstrating outstanding leadership skills.

“The award recognizes site managers who have a proven ability to communicate their vision of the program and implement their ideas by building effective relationships with their staff members,” Costa said. “Site managers are also awarded for their ability to build a successful program which involves having a safe and nurturing environment for both participants and staff.”

Keone Tango of the Kekaha Neighborhood Center site, Travis Koga of the Lihue Neighborhood Center site, Sybil Chand of the King Kaumualii Elementary School site, and Gavin Jardin of the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center site receive the “Exemplary Service to Kids” awards.

“The County of Kauai, Department of Parks and Recreation presents this to a Summer Enrichment Program recreation aide who has served as a positive role model and whose behavior is emulated by the participants,” Costa said. “The award seeks to recognize a recreation aide who exhibits patience and kindness towards participants as well as inspires them to become their very best. Additionally, the recreation aide is awarded for his, or her commitment to safety and providing fun activities which enhance participants’ physical, emotional and cognitive skills.”

Arruda said the Summer Enrichment Program offered keiki a balanced program of education and fun during the summer months.

“With an international curriculum theme, the students went ‘around the world,’” Arruda said. “The students showcased crafts and performances for their families during the final days of the program, the program representing countries such as Africa, China, Korea, Mexico, the United States and Polynesia.”

Throughout the program, keiki were treated to excursions to the county’s pools, beach parks, the museum, the Kauai Gymnastics Academy, and the Grove Farm Homestead Museum historic train ride.

During these trips, actors from the Storybook Theater greeted the keiki with is “Put Opala in its Place” message, the theme being reinforced with free educational coloring books.

Other contributors included a speaker from the YWCA of Kauai on bullying and caring for themselves.

Stacy’s Boot Camp led exercise drills and obstacle courses between sessions where keiki worked on creative arts skills including tie-dye shirts, making maracas, masks, African necklaces, dream catchers, lanterns, and more.

Learning was enhanced through the variety of board games, and students developed physical activity skills through participating in outdoor games including basketball, dodgeball, relay races and other playground activities, Arruda said.

“This is not about the money, it’s about the experience,” Carvalho said. “All of our employees are special, but I’m happy to see these exceptional people being recognized.”

He said the Summer Enrichment Program works because of the employees who are hired when they are home from college.

“With a staff to child ratio of approximately one to nine, or less, the keiki were adequately supervised and assigned to a group leader who ensured their safety and enjoyment during the program,” Arruda said. “The Summer Enrichment Program was well-received by parents who appreciated the affordable price of a quality program, and keiki enjoyed the time they spent with peers and the summer staff.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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