Youths and adults work together during a beach cleanup event on Kaua‘i.
When youths and adults pursue shared goals together, each group brings important assets to the team and takes home valuable lessons. This principle forms the basis for Engaging Youth, Serving Community, a 4-H program through which rural young people and adults gain experience, confidence, and leadership skills as they work in partnership to improve their communities.
In 2005, CTAHR extension agents Joan Chong, Laura Jean Kawamura, and Rose Saito brought together five youth-adult partnership teams from four counties for a statewide training session. The 10 adults and 20 young people identified community needs, developed action plans, secured resources, forged collaborations, and implemented a diverse set of projects.
On Kaua‘i, youths and adults decorated the dining hall of a Salvation Army soup kitchen in Lihue, creating a more welcoming environment for its patrons. The O‘ahu team made visits to kupuna at the Hale Mohalu care home to help plan and carry out educational programs for residents. Youthadult partners on Maui provided the National Guard Family Readiness Group with fun activities for children while family members prepared for the stresses of deployment. An East Hawai‘i team gave hygiene kits and blankets to neighbors in need and volunteered at a transitional housing site by beautifying the surroundings, donating school supplies, and providing learning opportunities for the children. In West Hawai‘i, the team organized healthy living workshops for the public and provided free diabetes screenings and medical binders to senior citizens.
Before funding expired in 2006, the original five teams subsequently trained an additional 40 teens and 20 adults, tripling the program’s size and extending its reach to Moloka‘i, O‘ahu’s Kuhio Park Terrace, and the East Hawai‘i homestead community of Keaukaha. New projects included decorating a second soup kitchen, beach clean-up, recycling, community basketball, a health fair, community safety outreach, and help with preservation of ‘Iolani Palace. New funding sources have since been found for additional youth-adult partnership projects, and the partnership model has been integrated into other 4-H activities to better address community needs.