Empowering Parents As Leaders


DOE communications specialist,Castle-Kahuku complexes

Eighteen new leaders graduated from Parent Leadership Training Institute-Hawaii in March, equipped to improve the outlook for children and to develop their own projects toward that end. Several graduates are alumni or parents of children in Castle Complex schools.

Along with 5,000 others in the U.S., they now have the leadership and civic skills to significantly improve the lives of students. Starting in Connecticut 23 years ago, the institute’s 20-week course has bettered the health, safety and education of 55,000-plus children nationwide. PLTI was established in Hawaii through PACT Kaneohe Community Family Center in 2014 and is the state’s only one.

The weekly night class was limited to 25 people, with 31 applying for the intense curriculum, which draws on their own strengths.

Jean Fong designed Pay it Forward for Castle High seniors. She secured a $1,700 grant from Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay and welcomed applicants for $100 scholarships to attend Project Grad. They had to do community service and write an essay related to the “5Rs”: responsibility, respect, resiliency, resourcefulness and relationships.

Jarnell Haukoloa formed the support group GRASP (Growing Respect Among Supportive Parents of children with ADHD). Still others aimed to increase girls’ self-esteem, awareness and ability to defend themselves against sexual assault, date rape and sex trafficking. One parent focused on obesity, nutritional awareness and family gardening.

“This is the one training program that gets people excited because they’re actually doing something to make change happen,” said Cynthia Okazaki, KCFC site manager and PLTI facilitator. “They feel empowered; they are empowered.”

Okazaki hopes to start a second course in the fall that would offer child care, meals and classes. Funders of the 2014 class were state Department of Health, Kamalapua O Koolau (Phyllis Ida), with support from Gordon Miyamoto, Jonathan Gillentine, Rosey Potts and Marty Oliphant. Arlina Wong and Okazaki founded PLTI-Hawaii.

For more information, call 235-7747.