The kids of spring

LIHUE — Amanda Jardin says she likes attending the Spring Fun Program because it gives her something fun to do.

“When I come home, I always get bored, so this keeps me busy,” the fourth-grader at King Kaumualii Elementary School, in Lihue, said.

Kai Riopta, a fifth-grader at King Kaumualii Elementary School, agreed.

“I like coming here. If I didn’t, I’d get lazy,” he said.

Jardin and Riopta are two of about 80 elementary school kids who attended Monday’s Spring Fun Program at the Lihue Neighborhood Center.

Keeping the kids active and engaged during spring break is something the program, hosted by the Department of Parks and Recreation, strives for, said Keoni Kelekoma.

“They’ve been in school all day, so I think they’re ready to have fun,” said the site manager for the program at the Lihue Neighborhood Center.

During the day, kids can play board games and play team sports like basketball and dodgeball. The program also helps parents, said Swayne-Lyn Brown, another site manager for the Lihue Neighborhood Center.

“The parents need it — they may not be able to get the time off to spend with their kids during break,” she said.

This year’s program wraps up today. Over 100 kids signed up to attend the program at the Lihue location. Parents can choose what days they want their children to attend.

On average, Kelekoma and Brown handle about 85 kids per day. They come from all over the island—from Anahola and Kapaa to Lihue and Koloa, Brown said.

Being able to connect with different people on the island is another perk of the program, she said.

“When they come here, they met kids who aren’t in their school or grade, but they might end up in the same high school, so they’ll already have those connections,” she said.

Everyone gets along well, Kelekoma added.

Kalina Lanning, who has been going to the spring program since kindergarten, said meeting new people is one of her favorite things about the spring program.

“I get to learn new things, play new sports and make new friends,” said the fifth-grader at Koloa Elementary School.

Kelekoma and Brown said the most rewarding part of being program leaders is being with the kids.

“I don’t have any brothers or sisters, so this is a way for me to be a role model,” he said.

Brown, who runs the A-Plus Program at Wilcox Elementary, in Lihue, agreed.

“It’s important to work with kids because they’re our future and I want to be able to make an impact on their life,” she said. “One of the kids in here could be the next president.”


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