Nearly 70 ‘ohana engagement staff and educators from across the state representing seven Department of Education (HIDOE) complex areas took part in Kealapono’s ‘Ohana Engagement Conference held recently at the Ka‘iwakīloumoku Hawaiiian Cultural Center on the campus of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama.
Kealapono, housed within KS’ Kūamahi Community Education group, supports Hawaiian culture-based programs and services in collaboration with HIDOE and charter schools. The conference allowed attendees to further understand the work done by Kealapono, including collaborating with HIDOE to deepen understanding of Nā Hopena A‘o, known collectively as HĀ (to breathe, exhale breath, life).
HĀ is a framework tied to engagement with students ranging from kindergarten to grade 12 and reflects the uniqueness of Hawai‘i through six outcomes: belonging, responsibility, excellence, aloha, total well-being and Hawai‘i.
Participants had an opportunity to connect via multiple experiential learning stations, including an area to craft pū ‘ohe. The bamboo horns are used to bring groups together, similar to how a conch shell is blown, and attendees also brainstormed ways to use pū ‘ohe in various activities and in-school events. In addition to working on the various projects, these breakout sessions allowed participants to build pilina (connections, relationships) and share strategies of how they might implement HĀ when planning for ʻohana engagement activities at their respective schools across the state.
“This event has ignited the commitment and passion for ʻohana,” said Kealapono Director Nani Fujiwara. “We know that in order for us to get to a thriving lāhui we need to instill a sense of belonging and identity for all the ʻohana we touch. We at Kealapono are excited at the potential that this gathering has created.”