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KS Maui student attend a cultivating tools training on August 24, 2016.

Specialists provide safety guidance when engaging in  'āina activities

Nov. 14, 2016

Contributed by Shaundor Chillingworth

ʻĀina-based education is a key component of Kamehameha Schools’ curriculum. The cultivation of lands with food crops, native plant reforestation, working in the loʻi and other activities contribute to fostering a Native Hawaiian identity for haumāna through a connection to land.

To support this work and ensure a safe environment for students and staff, Mālama Ola Education Safety Specialists have been partnering with operating groups to carry out assessments in various education spaces and provide support with training. 

An example of this support includes the development of strategies to mitigate risk associated with use of equipment and tools.  The strategies were created through partnerships between Education Safety and groups across the organization.

“The desire is to create broader awareness on resources and support for operating groups related to these activities, specifically in this case the use of equipment related to ʻāina work,” said Carl Alexander, Kamehameha Schools Education Safety and Risk Manager.

“We are available to support these and other safety activities as well.” 

Alexander explained how the training is what used to be common skills given a previously more sustainable life style where families tended to backyard gardens and may have raised animals for home consumption.

With ʻāina based learning and sustainability increasingly being recognized as valuable both culturally and environmentally, the associated skills are now again relevant.  Training materials include fundamental and variable pieces.  General items include practices like how to evaluate the environment for slopes or if there are holes in the ground, being conscious of other you are working around, hydration, personal protective equipment and more. 

“They will also cover specifics on tool use with hand positioning, etc, and cover risks associated with equipment use,” shared Alexander. “To test for understanding Student would then demonstrate competence.”

For support with these and other safety initiatives, staff can contact Alexander or a safety specialist on their island. The specialists are:

  • Richard Rosen – Oʻahu
  • Alan Abara – Oʻahu
  • Robert Burgess – Hawaiʻi Island
  • Martin Lacio -  Maui Nui and Kauaʻi

 “Supporting student safety with ʻāina-based learning, culture-based learning and sustainability projects is imperative,” said Alexander.

“We look forward to participating in this exciting time of change and stand ready to support.”

SP2020 is a five-year strategic plan that will guide Kamehameha Schools from 2015 to 2020. The plan marks a starting point toward KS’ Vision 2040, which envisions success for all Native Hawaiian learners.

Safety initiatives like these trainings aligns with Goal 1 of SP2020, which mandates KS deliver world-class, culture-based education through a network of Native Hawaiian schools, inclusive of our KS schools and Native Hawaiian charter and immersion schools. By focus on student safety and well-being as an organizational priority, KS is able to advance as a world-class school system according to Action 1 for fiscal year 2016-2017. By creating a safe, ʻāina-based learning environment, KS is able to also progress on Goal 3, to cultivate a strong Native Hawaiian identity, instilling confidence and resiliency in our learners and to inform decision making and actions within our organization, for the improvement of the well-being of the lāhui.

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