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MidWeek Staff

Area Surfer Teaches Keiki To Respect The Ocean

City News…City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine

On the mainland, the changing of seasons is signaled by trees shedding leaves and cooler temperatures. In Hawaii, winter means waves. And with slight breezes and swells of majestic sets, we are blessed to have these winter days where we can enjoy the ocean. To safely enjoy our ocean this winter and throughout the year, we must learn to respect its power and teach our keiki to do the same.

Wrapping up its most recent ocean clinic at Pokai Bay, Na Kama Kai, a blossoming grassroots nonprofit organization, is dedicated to empowering our keiki with knowledge and respect for what the ocean provides.

Na Kama Kai’s mission is to empower our youths by creating, conducting and supporting ocean-based programs, specifically targeting ocean safety and conservation awareness. The group aims to increase the capacity of youths in the community through Hawaiian values, culture and environmental education.

Serving our Leeward communities as well as communities statewide, Na Kama Kai conducts ocean clinics that nurture a deep sense of love for the ocean among our keiki. The clinics offer keiki a unique connection to the ocean, as they are guided by professional surfers, watermen and waterwomen, lifeguards, firefighters, marine scientists, Hawaiian cultural practitioners, and ocean rescue instructors, to become confident in the ocean.

“These ocean clinics promote cultural knowledge and environmental responsibility to underprivileged youths and are held at various locations around Oahu including Waikiki, Pokai Bay, Ewa Beach Park, Waimanalo Beach Park, Kahana Bay and Haleiwa Beach Park,” said Duane DeSoto, Na Kama Kai founder and professional surfer.

DeSoto, a Leeward Coast native, grew up surfing at Makaha Beach, where from as early an age as 8, he grew up riding his bike down to the famed surf break. For DeSoto, growing up with a supportive community of watermen and waterwomen was a blessing.

After achieving success as a professional surfer, DeSoto dreamed of a similar community for underserved youths. With his passion for the ocean, DeSoto brought together a team that shares the same passion and a desire to empower our keiki with knowledge and respect for the ocean, the life it sustains, and the responsibility to be stewards of its resources.

Since the first clinic in 2008, more than 6,500 children have participated in Na Kama Kai programs. Along with ocean safety skills, keiki are given the opportunity to learn traditional surfboard shaping, stand up surfing and canoe paddling, as well as stew-rdship and resource conservation.

The Na Kama Kai, Ocean Safety and Conservation Awareness Clinics are open to children ages 2-18 years with clinics being held on the second Sunday of every month, at one of five rotating locations throughout Oahu.

For more information about the ocean safety clinics or to donate to Na Kama Kai, visit nakamakai.org or call 864-9164.

City Councilwoman Kymberly Marcos Pine serves District 1. You can reach her by phone at 768-5001, via email at kmpine@honolulu.gov, or by visiting councilmemberpine.com.

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