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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Christina O’Connor

Kids Initiating Change

KIC members (back, from left): Catherine Jara, Sara Tremmel, Shantelle Sagucio, adviser Victoria Coffin; front: Nikki Baduria and Gabby Lonzame

When students at Keone’ula Elementary School in Ewa Beach talk about the three R’s, they don’t always mean reading, writing and arithmetic. A student club for sixth-graders – Kids Initiating Change (KIC) – is promoting a different meaning of the letters: reduce, reuse, recycle. KIC is a service group that organizes various projects, many that aim to improve the environment, including recycle days and educating younger students about such issues. The group currently is comprised of about 40 sixth-graders – the largest it’s been during its four-year run.

Throughout this school year, KIC has been planning and creating an on-campus garden of native Hawaiian plants, including taro and sweet potato.

“We researched the plants that we were going to use in the garden to find out which ones would grow best here and what we needed,” explained KIC member Shantelle Sagucio, who helped spearhead the research.

“One of our main goals is to make sure that the students of Keone’ula learn more about the Hawaiian culture,” KIC student Nikki Baduria says, explaining that the school’s kumu can hold lessons in the garden and teach students about the plants.

“We hope that this garden will eventually be a learning garden for the whole school,” says teacher and KIC adviser Victoria Coffin, adding that different grade levels could incorporate it into their curriculum. They also hope that others in the community will be able to utilize the garden.

The group recently received a $1,000 Disney Friends for Change grant from nonprofit Youth Service America to support the garden.

The KIC students work tirelessly to achieve their motto and “be the change,” often giving up their lunch breaks – and sometimes their weekends – to work on projects. But they say the hard work is worth it.

“I wanted to be a part of something to help the earth, because it’s getting more polluted and I could see that,” says Gabby Lonzame.

“I didn’t only want to join KIC to make a change in other people’s lives, but I also wasn’t that environmentally friendly, so I could learn for myself how to care for the earth,” says KIC member Catherine Jara.

There are only a few weeks left before school lets out for the summer – and before this KIC batch heads off to intermediate – but they still have a slew of projects to do in the remaining days. They’re planning a beach cleanup, a charity walk and a campus beautification project.

“Knowing that KIC is doing something to help save the earth, it’s exciting – and we’re encouraging others to do the same,” says KIC student Sara Tremmel.

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