Families Want To Share Benefits Of Skate Park Paint-overs

They did it again. To the inconvenience of taggers, Kailua area families swept into Keolu Skate Park on a recent weekend and literally wiped out all the graffiti – and after all that hard work by vandals to smear the park’s walls, ramps and volleyball courts with their obscene absurdities. The nerve.

“Someone will hit it again within a week,” sighed Malia Gray, whose husband Todd and kids began eradication efforts eight years ago at the park near their home. Five years ago they officially adopted the park. Now the project has a brand-new banner with the motto “My Community, Our Kuleana,” and the paint-over brigade has swelled to three families who meet as needed to cover the mess.

Zion Kaauwai, Luke Faurot, Meleana Gray and Rom Lee

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Zion Kaauwai (left), Luke Faurot, Meleana Gray and Rom Lee paint a ramp ledge at Keolu Skate Park as part of the ‘My Community, Our Kuleana’ effort by area families to help keep the park graffiti-free. Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo, ltabudlo@midweek.com.

“Recently the graffiti has progressed in vulgarity and repetition,” Gray admitted. “My son Akili (a ninth-grader) has championed the effort before in recruiting other kids to help, and now our daughter Meleana, 11, would like to do it. She plays volleyball there and hated seeing the middle finger pictures every time she did her drills. She says it’s distracting, but it also brings you down.”

Gray noted that students at Keolu Elementary also are exposed to the graphic graffiti whenever they have recess on the volleyball courts.

The Grays, the Faurots and the Kaauwais came to the skate park May 5 armed with paint from the city, and various supplies, which frequently are donated by Hardware Hawaii, UDown and the local Chevron station. They started at 6 a.m. and had to be quick because the paint must dry before the park opens to the public.

“Once you start, it only takes four people to knock the park out,” Gray said. But they would like to grow the helping hands and commitment from neighbors so they can keep ahead of the vandals.

They also are trying for a Castle Foundation grant, which looks for proof of youth commitment. “That Saturday we ended up getting 14 youths working for two hours each. The kids need 500 hours to qualify for the grant. And there were people who walked by who were interested.”

So far the Kuleana crew draws its help from a cross-section of their children’s schools and interests. Zion Kaauwai is a Kaelepulu student and Boy Scout, Lanikai resident Luke Faurot is in Kailua Swim Club, and Meleana attends Trinity Christian and plays with Koolau Volleyball Club.

It’s not so much a commitment, but an opportunity, Gray explained. “It’s teaching our keiki the importance of their community and their kuleana.” To join the fun, call 294-2966 or email kaohanagray@gmail.com.