Youth Summits Scheduled in North Hawaiʻi and Hilo
Two local youth summits are scheduled next month in an effort to provide teens and young adults an opportunity to network, gain insight into their personal skills and strengths, and identify opportunities to contribute to community resilience.
The summits will be hosted by the ʻŌpio Alliance for Kuleana Advancement, also known as ʻOAKA, in collaboration with Vibrant Hawaiʻi Resilience Hubs. ʻOAKA is a youth-designed and led coalition that invests in personal and professional leadership development through kuleana – a native Hawaiian value of shouldering one’s individual responsibilities for collective community resilience.
ʻOAKA launched a series of youth summits in August, which serve as launch points to increase a sense of belonging for youth ages 15-22 in their districts, according to a press release from Vibrant Hawaiʻi, a community-based organization that connects people through hubs across the island.
Next month’s summits will be held in Hilo and North Hawaiʻi.
The Hilo ʻOAKA YOUTH Summit will be held on Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Campus Center, Room 301.
The North Hawaiʻi ʻOAKA YOUTH Summit will be held on Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Tūtūʻs House. Interested youth between the ages of 15-22 are encouraged to register at vibranthawaii.org/get-involved.
Registration closes Thursday at 4:30 p.m. for Hilo and Oct. 8 at 4:30 p.m. for North Hawaiʻi.
Grounded in the principles of Asset Based Community Development, ʻOAKA collaborates with local youth-serving organizations, high schools, and university campuses to advance equitable opportunities for youth on Hawaiʻi Island to build capacity and activate their agency as change makers. The youth summits are led by two of Vibrant Hawaiʻi’s Community Engagement Ambassadors, Cole Fuertes, and Kuʻuhiapo Jeong, who are both youths.
“We have seen a number of very intuitive individuals share their experience about what it means to be youth in this day and age in their own communities.” Fuertes said. “What they [youth] shared, I am hoping, could be the foundation of change set forth for generations to come.”
Hailing from Kohala, Fuertes is one of the leaders of the youth summits. He recently graduated with his B.S in Marketing from Menlo College.
Jeong, a co-leader of ʻOAKA, echoed Fuertes.
“We received feedback that youth from our past summits built new relationships and strengthened relationships with the community, grew in critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and grew in their sense of belonging and connection to their own community as a result of their participation in the summit — to name a few. This is truly the catalyst for fruitful and empowering opportunities to entice change for their future.”
Jeong recently graduated from UH Hilo and is currently enrolled in Biola University’s academically rigorous Public Relations & Reputation Management graduate program.
According to the release, an important component of the youth summits highlights the existence and work of Resilience Hubs around the island.
In 2020, Vibrant Hawaiʻi brought together communities across the island in a formal network called Resilience Hubs. Today, there are a total of 40 Hubs – located in every district of the island. There are 2-levels of Hubs: Kahua means foundation. The foundation-level Kahua hubs serve a specific geographic area and are called upon to distribute food supplies, health products and services, and donations to support community resilience, and promote and/or host programs and services to support community resilience. Kaiāulu means community.
The Kaiāulu level hubs incorporate all the activities and agreements of Kahua Hubs and commit to actively building capacity to facilitate community disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and/or economic resilience. KaiāULU Hubs have access to a physical space to operate resilience hub activities and focus their energies on designing their Community Resilience Plan and mapping assets and threats in their community.
With training and support, KaiāULU Hubs will build a Response Team to mobilize during times of crisis and disaster to create a coordinated Request for Assistance and assist with donation management, recruit, activate and manage volunteers, engage with media channels during an active disaster, and provide Mental Health First Aid training and Social Service Navigators. Many resilience Hubs are community and volunteer-driven.
“The summits serve more than just a place where youth become aware of opportunities in their communities. We go a step further and match their skillsets with free skill-building workshops – Adulting 101 – held in partnership with local area Resilience Hubs,” Jeong said.