LIHUE — Divina Plowman, a teacher at Kauai High School, said events like the anti-bullying rally Saturday make a difference for both young people and adults.
“This kind of event makes a difference,” said Plowman, whose daughter Caitlin was part of the rally as a guest beauty queen. “The young people become educated and others who drive by get better awareness.”
Several hundred young people took to the streets in a sign-waving campaign against bullying and promoted being nice to other people as part of the opening of the Kauai Pop Warner Football League.
The start of Pop Warner tackle football and cheer has typically been Aug. 1, but the five associations on Kauai have been working on conditioning for the past several weeks while their coaches have been working at clinics and on certifications. Practice is underway and games will start following the Jamboree in Koloa.
Teddy Arroyo, commissioner for the Kauai Pop Warner Football League, said there are new things in store for the program as it develops.
“Pop Warner is more than just a football program,” the commissioner said. “We need all kinds of people to make this work. School is very important, and coaches become second parents as people the players can turn to for help.”
Arroyo said players come together and develop together starting with a football clinic at 8 a.m. Saturday at Isenberg Park.
“You can do it,” said Kauai Police Sgt. Darla Abbatiello. “Jordon Dizon, my son, started with the coaches at Kekaha before succeeding at Waimea High School. He went to college by playing football, and recently agreed to return to the National Football League. If Jordon could do it, every one of you can do it, too.”
Abbatiello said it was awesome the KPWFL had taken on the subject of bullying, noting that the cellphone is the worst weapon bullies use, and social media is not a secret.
The Pop Warner population was joined by several beauty queens as they trooped off for the sign-waving in front of Ace Hardware and Kuhio Ford where the honking from passing motorists further fueled the enthusiasm demonstrated by the young people.
Sean Michael Shigematsu, a former University of Hawaii Rainbow Warrior player who started with the Kapaa Pop Warner Association, led a group of former collegiate players walking the players through drills during the Fun Day, which opened the Kauai Pop Warner Football League season and highlighted by water features and lunch.
The associations that make up the KPWFL include Kapaa, Lihue, Koloa, Hanapepe and Kekaha.