HYSN Advocate of the Year Award

The Kea`au Youth Business Center (KYBC), which is the site of Hawai`i Community College’s Running Start/Middle College Program has just received the Hawai’i’s Outstanding Advocate for Children and Youth Award for 2011. In its fairly short existence of four years, it has served about five hundred youth; won several state and national awards; produced approximately 30 PSAs and documentaries dealing with youth social issues like smoking, alcohol, drug abuse, domestic violence and environmental issues like recycling, development, and cultural preservation. A sampling of these videos are available on www.kybc808.com.

KYBC is like a life saving pool of water in a desert of social challenges. It is located in the district of Puna, which is the second poorest area in the state of Hawai`i. There are very few programs and opportunities for youth in this area, which is challenged by isolation and transportation problems. KYBC is the site of two innovative programs; one in-school and one after-school. It has given youth a direct pathway to higher education and skill building in three “green” job areas—digital media art, culinary arts and music/sound recording. The amazing feature about KYBC is that it gives economically disadvantaged youth access to a state-of-the-art facility with quality equipment and professional trainers. This has served to prepare youth who may have never thought of college in their future to aspire to have dreams and to change their goals, and life direction.

In KYBC’s Running Start/Middle College (RS/MC) program, high school juniors and seniors take college classes, which they can use for both high school and college credit. This semester, high school students from Connections Public Charter School, Kua O Ka La Public Charter School and Pahoa High School gather at KYBC. They gather on Friday mornings to earn 3 college credits in HSERV. 110, which is taught by Valerie Hafford. Ten of these RS/MC students will be trained as production assistants for a project involving producing four videos. They will utilize local actors and scripts to research teenage responses to drug scenarios in the spring 2012 semester. The project is a collaboration between Hawaii Pacific University, John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and KYBC. Exposure to these kinds of opportunities are changing the skill sets and aspirations of youth who are often written off by schools, and employers.

KYBC’s reputation as a place which supports children and youth being prepared for 21st century education, and work has spread. They now serve as an important learning center for many schools on the east side of the Big Island, besides those involved in the in-school RS/MC program. This past year, they served as the training center and production center for students from Puna, as well as the Lanakila Learning Center who researched and produced videos about watershed issues on the island. By the end of the year, KYBC plans to release its second CD, “Na Ano (Native Seeds), Vol. II,” which is comprised entirely of music composed and performed by high school youth on the Big Island. It is also mixed and mastered at KYBC’s Ohia Lehua Recording Studio. This is one of the rare opportunities available in the state for youth to learn recording skills and showcase their musical talent.

KYBC is a 21st century learning studio which supports youth driven projects and real life work skills. It is a supportive environment, which encourages youth to take risks and have dreams in one of the most depressed communities in the state. KYBC is a fierce advocate for Big Island youth by giving them the tools and opportunities to create hopeful futures. To become involved or learn more about the program, contact Trina Nahm-Mijo, p. 934-2574 or nahmmijo@hawaii.edu.

HYSN Advocate Award

From left to right: Lily Chan-Harris and Cyd Hoffeld accept Children and Youth Advocate of the Year Award from Governor Neil Abercrombie and Representative John Mizuno at Washington Place Luncheon.


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