Kawaikini project teaches conservation, entrepreneurial skills

LIHUE — Kawaikini New Century Public Charter School is launching a program to give students new learning opportunities.

KNCPCS will be starting “Pepa Hale Hana” (paper factory), where students from seventh to 11th grade will learn about the ocean and conservation while producing eco-friendly products.

The project is being funded by Kupu and Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s Hawaii Youth Sustainability Challenge mini-grant program.

“These students are the next generation of environmental stewards and community leaders,” said John Leong, CEO of Kupu. “Hopefully projects like these inspire and empower them to continue to create sustainable solutions for a better, more resilient Hawaii.”

Students will use old shredded paper and other recyclable materials to create handmade paper cards. Decorated with plants and other renewable natural resources, and incorporating Hawaiian language, students hope to promote education and awareness about conservation and culture.

The cards will be sold in the school’s Country Store.

KNCPCS teacher Nicomas Dollar said the project will deal with challenges correlated with conservation and sustainability.

“Environmental education for sustainable development is an important approach to encourage students to conserve and protect the natural environment in their schools and in their communities,” Dollar said.

KNCPCS is one of 25 schools across the state selected to receive funding for new innovative environmental projects to promote sustainability in schools.

The projects will be implemented by June.

Leong sees a lot of opportunity for learning with this paper factory.

“They’re educating people and teaching people through their cards the importance of conservation,” Leong said. “It’s really exciting because any time a project shows innovation, you can have a project that is educational and helps the planet.”

Leong said he wants the next generation to feel empowered.

“I think what we’re really after is helping students realize that they have the potential to create change and we hope some of them will be around to protect Hawaii’s resources,” he said. “I think we’re going to put together a phenomenal generation that can help change the world.”

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