Compassion in action: Aloha MAP program distributes school supplies to participants

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A steady stream of cars filtered through Big Island Grill’s parking lot on July 18 as Aloha MAP staff distributed 900 bags filled with school supplies to students participating in the summer program.

Aloha MAP (Meritorious Achievement Program) offers children and youth free, culturally relevant academic and learning opportunities designed to reduce summer learning loss, improve student proficiency in English Language Arts and Math and increase student knowledge in Hawaiian language and culture.

The program serves K-12 students from Ka‘u to Waikoloa and has previously held sessions at Konawaena and Kealakehe high schools, however due to COVID-19, this summer was held virtually, except for the 800 family members who were able to experience Dolphin Quest at Hilton Waikoloa Village.

As vehicles drove through the well-planned-out route through the parking lot, staff checked them in and placed color-coded sticky notes on the car windshield indicating the grade level of students in the program. They then received bags filled with grade appropriate supplies, including books.

Grace said each bag contained approximately $100 worth of supplies that’ll be put to good use as Hawaii’s public schools are set to resume Aug. 4 after shuttering in March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

But that’s not all the kids got. There were also snack bags, fans, sunglasses, beach balls, swim rings and a wellness kit from West Hawaii Community Health Center distributed.

Moving the program online nearly doubled the student participation this year, and project director Lilinoi Grace plans on continuing it throughout the school year.

Not only is she continuing the program for participants, she has obtained licensing for Acellus, an online learning platform that allows students to receive credits, to 15 schools, giving access to learning for all students.

With the licensing, each student can take up to six courses at a time, and because Aloha MAP also has a license, participants can take an additional six classes.

Grace said the modified schedules set for this school year leaves gaps in student’s learning. “We cannot let these kids get left behind,” she said.

She will also be offering SAT/ACT preparation classes for high school students.

Summer program participants were able to transfer credits from any of the work completed to their school.

Grace said Aloha MAP is also launching a learn-and-earn program where program participants earn points for activities they completed online. Once the app is launched, students can use points earned over the summer on their online store. Store items will include food, school supplies, sporting equipment, and toys.

“This way they can contribute to their home,” Grace said.

The program also offers STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Hawaiian language and culture and health and wellness classes through its Instagram account. Nonparticipants in the program can access these classes as well.

Aisea Tremaine puts together the health and wellness videos for the program. The 10- to 20-minute workout programs are meant to be scaled to age appropriate exercise, but can be done at home, encouraging the keiki to stay active. He has also put together drills for high school athletes who need to maintain endurance and speed.

“It’s hard because they couldn’t train with their teams,” he said.

Tremaine also has plans on creating fun and informative videos on nutrition.

Kenneth Aloha Victor said they also upload fun videos such as how to make a solar s’mores oven and how to clean and cook fish.

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“For Lilinoi, it’s all about education,” said Victor. “Everyone learns differently — and she knows that.”

For more information, visit alohamap.org.