The 10th Annual Ohana is Forever conference was held on July 15, 2016. It provided tools to guide youth and the adults who support them to rise above past adverse experiences and build a foundation for ensuring a happy future and a positive legacy.
Below are handouts and videos from the conference. If you don’t find what you are looking for, please check back. We will be uploading information from the conference as we receive it.
Welcoming video from the DHS Director Rachael Wong
♥ The Best Things I Never Had ~ Keynote Presenters Makani and Brianna Kema-Kaleiwahea
We were honored to have this amazing young couple, Makani and Brianna Kema-Kaleiwahea, open the conference. Makani went into foster care when he was 9 years old. From there, he was adopted into an abusive family. When he turned 18, he went to bat for all the children left in the abusive home. He and his wife, Brianna, made a loving home for the children. Eventually the oldest three were adopted by family and Makani and Brianna adopted the two youngest children. Makani and Brianna were chosen for the 2016 Casey Excellence for Children Award for kinship caregivers this year. You can Click here to read more about their story.
♥ Your Caring Heart: Renewal for Helping Professionals and Systems-Presented by Dr. Jaiya John
Flex Your X – Printable copy of poem
Audio of Flex Your X as read by Dr. Jaiya John at OIF on July 15, 2016
Akamu – Legend of a Sea Turtle by Dr. Jaiya John
♥ No More Children at Risk, Children at Promise – Presented by Mervlyn Kitashima
Mervlyn Kitashima grew up on Kauai enduring many challenges and was considered an “at risk” youth, yet she has blossomed into a strong, happy, productive member of our community. When asked what made the difference for her, she shared four protective factors, all of which have been validated by research done by Dr. Emmy Werner’s Kauai Longitudinal Study. Click on link to learn more about Merv’s story and those protective factors:
“FYA Talks”: Foster Youth Advocacy Talks: Inspirational Stories and Thoughts about Normalcy and Well-Being ~ Presented by the HI H.O.P.E.S. Youth Leadership Board
The HI H.O.P.E.S. Youth Leadership Board provided everyone understand why Normalcy is so important to children and youth’s well being. Click here for the video they played.
They also provided every youth attendee with a backpack filled with school supplies and an 8 GB flash drive loaded with resource and videos. Click here to go to their website to see the resources on the drive.
♥ RefleXtions on Our Past, Present, and Future – Our lunch time activity stayed true to the theme of the day.
Each attendee was asked to write what they would like to see at future OIF conferences on a pre-cut shape of a Kukui Tree nut.
They were asked to write what reflections of past OIF conferences on the cut-out shape of the tree’s leaf.
Youth on the OIF planning committee chose to use the Kukui Tree for this activity as it represents growth and enlightenment.
♥ Ho`opono- The Mana of Truth ~ Presented by Dr. Manulani Aluli-Meyer
Professor Aluli-Meyer obtained her doctorate from Harvard (Ed.D. 1998) by studying Hawaiian epistemology via language, history, and the clear insights of Hawaiian mentors. She is a world-wide keynote speaker and has published extensively on the topic of native intelligence and its synergistic linkages to quantum sciences, transformational evaluation practices, and to liberating pedagogy. She brought young and old together to teach us about the power of our words in a most beautiful way. Learn more from her book, Ho‘oulu: Our Time of Becoming – Hawaiian Epistemology.
♥ Using the Past to Write the Future ~ Presented by Jenna Robinson
If you are a youth who was in this workshop and are willing to share your writing, please email us at email@example.com.
♥ Food as Medicine ~ Presented by Mama T and YES Hawaii
Powerpoint coming soon.
Meet the Masters of Ceremonies
Keola Limkin (Ola) is a former foster youth. Always admiring the beautiful yet deadly Wailuku River, he grew up in Hilo, Hawai‘i along side of five younger brothers and a younger sister. Ola and his siblings were split into three separate homes when he was 15. As the hānau mua (oldest child), he took up the responsibility of excelling at Hilo High School and at household duties. Even though high school years evoked some suicidal ideation, Keola focused on his mission to serve his community and to be a blessing to others.
In 2015, Keola graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo with his bachelor’s degree in psychology and communication. He has served on the HI H.O.P.E.S. Youth Leadership Board for over 4 years and is currently working as a WRAP Youth Partner for EPIC ‘Ohana, Inc. We were honored to have him lead us at the very special 10th `Ohana is Forever conference!
Lemuta Utu is 16 years old and currently in foster care. When Lemuta was 14, she started skipping class and generally getting into trouble at school. When she moved into her current resource home, her resource caregiver gave her, as Lemuta calls it, “the speech” about how important education is. She took this to heart and started attending class, doing the work, and found she actually enjoyed school. She finished a seven week summer school class this summer in just two weeks! Lemuta has caught up on her credits to the point that she is now able to start her senior year at Castle High School on August 1.
Lemuta is interested in pursuing work to help youth like herself. We believe she will be very successful in this and anything else that she sets her mind on doing.