When Service Nation’s Chris Marvin partnered with The American Heart Association’s “Teaching Gardens” Kelly Meyer, and the Sierra Club’s Military Families Program to host 11 service events in eleven cities nationwide on 11/11/11, 600+ very fortunate school children at Hickam Elementary School in Honolulu Hawaii became the benefactors when the eleventh event was pushed to Monday 11/14, a school day...AND WOW, what an amazing experience the eleventh event was. Sierra Club’s Hawaii Chapter showed up in force with tools, volunteers, and expertise to help make the eleventh event a huge success for these students.
The event’s corporate sponsor and partner volunteers all arrived at the school the day before to assemble 11 “Teaching Garden” boxes and fill them with locally produced organic soil and compost. The purpose was to give kids a chance to learn how to grow healthy food, how to plant and take care of their own native Hawaiian plants and veggies, how to prepare healthy snacks, and to learn the importance of exercise and to experience how much fun all of this can be!
A Sierra Club veteran herself, Annette Kaohelaulii of the Hawaii Chapter, along with Sierra Volunteer and Hawaii Pacific University Garden Club President Clarice Schafer were there to represent the Club, get their hands dirty, network with school officials, and develop a Chapter Service Project to help the school maintain their gardens.
When kids arrived at school on Monday November 14, sporting their Service Nation shirts, class by class, they were treated to the experience of planting in their new gardens, attending dance and cooking classes, and best of all, experiencing a school -wide outdoor assembly with very special guests.
After raising the American and Hawaiian Flags, the school was lead by their school chorus singing “God Bless American” and the National Anthem. Words cannot describe the spectacle of 600 kids singing in honor of their country, not to mention the goose bumps that we all experienced. Next, world famous athletes and healthy lifestyle role models, Laird Hamilton, big wave surfer and super athlete, and his wife Gabrielle “Gabby” Reese, supermodel and pro beach volley ball player, taught the students the importance of keeping their bodies healthy and brought the kids to their feet in a school -wide group workout. Next, the cast of the hit TV show , Hawaii Five-0, emerged with wheel barrows filled with organic fruits and veggies for all of the kids to take home while Daniel Dae Kim inspired kids to maintain healthy choices for a healthy lifestyle. As if this weren’t enough, all of the kids then joined together on the open lawn and performed a mob squad dance to the Black- Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling (Tonight’s gonna be a good night).”
No doubt, these kids were inspired by service, to do service, to be healthy, to have fun, and to be outdoors as much as possible. The message, the inspiration, the role models, the activities, and the honor in service were all pulled together, sending a strong message of cooperation, of kokua, and of community in service to each other to hopefully enhance their own individual health and to enhance the health of their own community.
Hawaii Chapter Volunteer Coordinator