Our Islands, Our Future

04-04-12 YA Kalakupua PlaygroundEighteen-year-old Chelsea Aviles has a better appreciation for playgrounds having just poured out her heart in a Community Work Day project in Haiku. Aviles, a Lahainaluna High School senior, and 14 other members of the Focus Maui Nui Youth Alliance recently refurbished the Kalakupua Playground in Haiku. Three hours on a recent Saturday was spent pulling weeds, repairing the playground equipment and its tarped ground covering. “It was a lot more hard work than I expected but it was all worth it,” Aviles said. She said the project gave her a chance to reminisce about her own “small kid time” while enjoying the opportunity to refurbish the playground for the next generation.

Community Work Day Program Director Maile Carpio said she was impressed by the hard work of the high school teenagers. “You can see these kids totally understand what it’s like to give back to the community,” Carpio said. “I thought it was fantastic.” Community Work Day on Maui has long been known for its debris cleanups on highways, on shorelines and in the ocean. But the county program also takes on projects such as community gardens, homeless campgrounds, graffiti removal and the Kalakupua Playground built by a group of parents by Giggle Hill in Haiku. “The big words these days are “green” and “recycle”. Peoples’ eyes are opened to this and I saw that in the young people involved in the playground project,” she said.

Aviles said that her first year in the Youth Alliance has provided her with experiences to give back to the community she grew up in. “This keeps me active with the community and makes me want to give more and care more about the environment I live in,” she said. Aviles dreams of a future career in business and a life that will involve community service projects throughout the island. Led by the Maui Economic Development Board, the Youth Alliance members gather monthly to explore the many facets of the community and conduct a variety of community service projects.