Three on Maui Recognized as “Champions for Children”
* Updated March 18, 6:22 AM
Maui food truck owners providing free meals to kids, an early learning program for low-income families, and a longtime leader for early childhood education are among this year’s Champions for Children honorees.
This year, for its annual Champions for Children awards on April 7, Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network is recognizing community members who went above and beyond for keiki during the COVID-19 pandemic. They include educators, social service providers, health advocates, and other leaders from across the state.
There are three honorees from Maui: Cristina and Devin Pagaduan, owners of Pastele House Maui; Maui Family Support Services, Inc. Early Head Start; and Debbi Amaral, Director of Maui Economic Opportunity Head Start.
“It’s been a year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and amid the unprecedented challenges we’ve faced, it’s inspiring to see how these Champions for Children have made an impact,” said Deborah Zysman, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network. “All 17 honorees are representative of the extraordinary dedication to children and families across the state. We’re excited to share their stories in the coming days.”
HCAN received nearly 90 public nominations, and a panel of community experts selected the honorees. For three awards—Innovator, Family-Friendly Employer, and Unsung Hero—the judges picked three finalists, and the winners will be revealed live during the ceremony.
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green will deliver a keynote speech at the virtual Champions for Children event on April 7, which will take place from 6-7 p.m. Registration is free, with a $25 suggested donation. The public is invited to sign up at https://champions.hawaii-can.org.
The complete list of 2021 Champions for Children honorees include the following:
- Innovator: Christian Wong, Hawaiʻi STEM Community Care; David Miyashiro, HawaiiKidsCAN; Punahele Provisions
- Family-Friendly Employer: ADM Architecture + Interiors; ʻIolani School; Wesley Children’s Programs
- Unsung Hero: Cristina and Devin Pagaduan, Pastele House Maui; Elisapeta Tuʻupo-Alaimaleata, Le Fetuao Samoan Language School; Susan Rocco, Special Parent Information Network
- Health Worker/Advocate: Kalākaua Middle School Custodian Team
- Public Health: Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services
- Family Strengthening: YMCA of Honolulu
- Economic Security/Social Services: Carla Houser, RYSE
- Early Learning (Individual): Debbi Amaral, Maui Economic Opportunity Head Start
- Early Learning (Organization): Maui Family Support Services, Inc. Early Head Start
- K-12 Teacher: Karl Higa, Noelani Elementary School
- K-12 Administrator: Malaea Wetzel, Haleʻiwa Elementary School