Armed with a sense of adventure, students from the Focus Maui Nui Youth Alliance mixed fun and education on Lāna‘i as part of their 2010-2011 capstone event. Alberta de Jetley of the Coalition for a Drug Free Lāna‘i “played” tour guide, using her nonprofit’s van to give the 10 participating teenagers a taste of her home island. They explored the Lāna‘i Culture and Heritage Center, visited with Lāna‘i business owners, planted kombucha and watermelon at Bennie’s Farm, and volunteered at The Cat’s Meow, a thrift shop that raises money to benefit the feral cat sanctuary, which de Jetley helped to establish.
“Any kind of program in which we can show the youth their future possibilities, I’m glad to help,” de Jetley said. “We might possibly be the catalyst or spark plug that leads them to their future endeavors.” The students also enjoyed swimming, hiking and a barbecue at a Lāna‘i campground where the island’s aloha spirit came alive when several residents stopped by to offer the youth some treats. “It was so much fun,” said Willow Krause, who just completed her first year as coordinator of the Youth Alliance. “It really did feel like a culminating activity in which there was a lot of learning and bonding with the kids.”
A 1998 Baldwin High School graduate, Krause said she was impressed with this school year’s Youth Alliance students. “They’re just so much more focused than I was at their age. They have plans for college, ideas on what’s next in their future and even what professions they want to learn about.” Krause said the students show a lot of openness toward new things, even on Lāna‘i where for some of them it was a first-time visit. “They’re just ready to jump in and learn new things.” All together, nearly 40 students in grades 9 to 12, including one home-schooled youth, participated in this year’s Youth Alliance activities. Recruiting for next school year begins in August. For more information, contact Krause at willow[at]medb[dot]org.