Pali Climbing Wall opens at the Kukui Grove Center

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Bruce Hetog, 8, tentatively lifts off a foothold on the Pali Climbing Wall Saturday at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A family waits their turn to the Pali Climbing Wall Saturday at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Bruce Hetog, 8, does a gravity-free Dab after reaching the top of the Pali Climbing Wall Saturday at Kukui Grove Center.

LIHU‘E — Drew Stenovich of Kaua‘i Team Challenge said confidence builds rapidly on the Pali Climbing Wall Saturday at Kukui Grove Center.

“It just takes a couple of steps,” Stenovich said while monitoring the wall on its opening day at the mall. “They’re shy when they start, and you can see their confidence level climb as they make their steps up the wall.”

Kaua‘i Team Challenge hosts the Pali Climbing Wall available for keiki and adults through an appointment system made by visiting

“It’s pretty easy,” said Kaua‘i County Councilmember Mason Chock. “It’s steps one, two and three.”

“This is a good thing,” said Sara Miura of Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i, who came to check out the new feature, and found it difficult to leave, even talking with Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School instructor Kevin Matsunaga, who stopped to look at the activity before getting lunch for his picture-taking crew. “Right now, keiki are free, and adults are $7,” said Miura.

Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, mall special-events coordinator, said the wall is scheduled to be available through the end of the state Department of Education’s winter break.

“I was speaking with Mason earlier,” McFerrin-Warrack said, “He said, ‘Part of being healthy is being able to check in (with young people), and by answering the questions on the survey, they can check in to see how the young people are doing.’”

Marion Paul of the Kaua‘i Planning & Action Alliance said that, since the COVID-19 outbreak, Kaua‘i has lost several young lives to suicide.

“It is our intention with this grant to insure that people who are at risk of a mental-health crisis understand that they are not alone, and know where to go if they need help,” Paul said in a release.

“Our primary goals are to reduce the stigma associated with mental-health issues, and to strengthen Kaua‘i’s ability to provide assistance to those in need through education and training. In addition, we aim to help families building resilience in their children during these stressful times through parent education and fun activities with a message.”

Paul said one way to build resilience, confidence and leadership skills is by learning to climb the rock wall that is brought to the island by Chock of Kaua‘i Team Challenge.

The rock-wall experience includes a survey during registration to help youth identify their feelings. It also includes a place for kids to share their aspirations and hopes with other youth.

“We’re super-excited to finally have the Pali Rock Climbing Wall up and running for our youth and community to enjoy,” said Nannie Ann Apalla, the Keiki to Career program manager.

“The rock-climbing experience is free for youth for the time being, so we encourage early online sign-up and reservation for the experience,” she said.

The Pali Climbing Wall is funded by part of a Kupa‘a Kaua‘i grant that started in July through the Kaua‘i Resiliency Project, a project of Keiki to Career Kaua‘i, which is a program of the KPAA.


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