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Hirono Visits Wellness and Health Centers Providing Services on Windward Side of Oahu

HONOLULU, HI – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) visited the windward side of Oahu to meet with participants and staff of the Kawailoa Youth and Wellness Center’s Kinai ‘Eha Program, which aims to provide alternative education to young adults in need of personal empowerment. Afterward, the Senator visited the Waimanalo Health Center to meet with staff and see its new Hale Ola ‘Alua building. The center provides medical, vision, and behavioral health services for the community. 

“The Kinai ‘Eha program, and those like it, are essential in supporting at-risk youth and young adult members of our communities,” said Senator Hirono. “These programs not only foster hard skills, such as workforce development, they also nurture the mental wellbeing and foster the leadership skills of our keiki, teens, and young adults by working to address problems such as trauma, poverty, and family conflict. Programs such as Kinai ‘Eha can change lives, which is why I recently secured $1.5 million to support these services. The resources and support offered by Kawailoa are valuable, and they have the ability to shape the futures of Hawaii’s youth.”

Kawailoa seeks to replace youth incarceration with educational, vocational, and workforce development using evidence-based cultural programs and integrative services. The success of these programs were highlighted last week when it was reported that, for the first time since it opened in 1961, there were no girls incarcerated at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility as a result of years-long efforts to steer youth towards community programs instead of juvenile corrections. 

“For the last three decades, the Waimanalo Health Center (WHC) has provided services to improve the health and wellbeing of people who live in the Waimanalo community,” said Senator Hirono. “Community health centers are critical to people across Hawaii, and provide help to those who might otherwise not have access to health care services. Each year, WHC receives about $2 million in federal funds, and I will work to ensure that they continue to receive this financial assistance. I am glad to see WHC’s facilities expanding, and look forward to supporting them as they continue to grow and serve our communities.”

Senator Hirono has been a champion for Hawaii’s Community Health Centers, including Waimanalo, and has helped them secure federal funding to better serve communities across the state. She has also worked to secure federal funding for other programs and resources that support Native Hawaiian communities. In 2020, the University of Hawaii received $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to expand education programs focused on food, agriculture, and natural resources – this funding enabled Native Hawaiian-serving institutions to promote educational equity for underrepresented students, expand education programs, and provide job training in these fields. Last September, the Department of Education awarded over $28 million in grants through the Native Hawaiian Education Program (NHEP) to provide assistance to several educational, community-based, and other similar organizations in Hawaii. In the beginning of June, Senator Hirono also toured RYSE (Residential Youth Services and Empowerment) and We Are Oceania’s (WAO) Youth Empowerment Center, which serve vulnerable youth in Hawaii.

Photos of the Senator’s visits can be found here