Kapolei’s Media Team Lauded By Drug-Free Hawaii

State Rep. Sharon Har

I want to shine light on another one of the many good things that are taking place on the west side of Oahu: the Kapolei High Social Norms Media Project Youth Team. It’s been blazing trails and raising awareness about high school-age problems among peers and also winning statewide awards for its message.


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At the Ola Pono awards ceremony are (from left) state Sen. Mike Gabbard, Rep. Sharon Har, Kapolei High School students Anjanette Pablo, Shanelle Ramelb, Kaley Tamura and Ilisha Badua, and Kapolei assistant vice principal Kim Sanders. Photo from Rep. Sharon Har.

The team was recognized Feb. 26 at the Ola Pono awards ceremony, as part of Honolulu Star-Advertiser‘s 12th annual HiLife Backyard Jam at Kapiolani Park. State Sen. Mike Gabbard and I participated in the ceremony, which presented the team with the Kendyl Kau Hau Blossom Award and $1,000 to the school for its accomplishments. The team motto, “I’m so HI – above the influence,” resonated particularly with me as a victim of a drunk-driving crash.

To see these young students stressing the importance of living a teenage life free of alcohol and drugs was truly inspirational.

Then on May 14, I caught up with the team to find out what the students have been doing since then. Many of the seniors already were looking forward to graduation. Others shared how they were able to get their message across to fellow students by using lunch events where they invited classmates to play games and win prizes emphasizing their message of being “HI above the influence.”

Some members reminisced about the beginning of the school year when they were thought of as “odd” by their classmates since their message wasn’t considered “cool.” However, the only odd thing about these students is that they dared to change the perception of their classmates with messages like “less than 21 = 0”: There’s no acceptable blood alcohol level if you’re under 21.

Simple, yet effective. There is no place for drugs or under-age alcohol consumption.

Their message was heard loud and clear, and I am proud to announce that the Legislature passed HB304, which included, among other things, $140,000 to fund the Coalition for a Drug Free Hawaii, which supports substance-abuse prevention services at Kapolei High, including the Social Norms Media Youth Project. We in the Legislature recognize the importance of these prevention programs, and I am proud of the message championed by our Kapolei team! Congratulations to the team and its advisers, Cami Iwata and Melissa Manuel, program director Cheryl Kameoka, and program director Renee Peiler. You all deserve the spotlight in our Second City!

Contact state Rep. Sharon Har, D-49 (MakakiloKapolei) at 586-8500 or email her at rephar@capitol.hawaii.gov.