WELLS STREET SAFE HOUSE FOR BOYS INCORPORATES CULTURAL COMPOENT
A blessing was held this morning to mark the opening of Ke Kama Pono or “Children of Promise” Safe House Group Home in Wailuku, a facility designed to turnaround the lives of troubled youth.
The Wells Street facility has the capacity to serve eight boys with transitional housing for up to six months at a time.
Program Manager, Ka’iulai Enos-Balidoy said the facility will provide a safe living environment for young boys between the ages of 14 and 18.Â The clients will be referred to the facility through family court, the Department of Human Services and juvenile probation officers.Â In addition to the support system, there is also a cultural component that will teach tenants about the connection to the aina or land around them and their role in the community.
During the blessing ceremony, Kumu Kapono Ai Molitau of Nahanonakulike o Piilani compared the facility to Kanehoalani-a wahi or place in the mauka region of Iao above the site that is translated as: friend that watches over us.
He compared the Lihau ua or the beckoning rain from the mauka ridge to the facility workers who are tasked with greeting the at-risk youth with new life and sustenance to continue on.
In his keynote address, Lt. Governor James “Duke” Aiona extended a mantra that states, “It’s a lot easier to build strong children than it is to fix a broken adult.”
Aiona said Ke Kama Pono will not only serve as a safe house for at-risk youth, but also will educate, service and provide life skills that he says, “will allow them an opportunity to get some discipline in their lives.”
The program is the third safe house the state has opened to help at-risk youth.Â Just last week, a safe house was dedicated in Kona, and the first facility opened in Honokaa in 2005.Â A fourth facility is currently under construction on Oahu and is set to open on May 8th with the capacity to serve up to 12 kids in the Kalaeloa area.
Department of Human Services Director Lillian Koller spoke of the importance of prevention saying and acknowledged the numerous businesses and neighbors that helped to find the site in time to avoid the loss of federal funds.
The 2,000 square foot facility was constructed on a triangular parcel north of the Wailuku Fire Station that was being used as a community park and garden.Â The house is equipped with eight beds, a kitchen, an office with eight computers, and a living room area.
Ke Kama Pono is a community-based approach to diverting non-violent youth at risk from incarceration.Â The program serves a segment of the juvenile population that is in need of a structured and secured environment, with the appropriate services and programs to become successful members of the community.
(By Wendy OSHER Â© 2009; Photos by Wendy OSHER Â© 2009)