New Ewa Center To Unite Keiki, Kupuna

All is set for the St. Francis Intergenerational Center to open its doors to both keiki and kupuna early next year in Ewa Beach.

Construction is in the final stages, and St. Francis Healthcare Systems of Hawaii hopes to have operations up and running by the end of January.

The center is designed to provide care for preschool children, as well as seniors who need around-the-clock care.

“Most families are being stretched to the limit and are stressed more than ever before because of greater demands at work and longer commute times,” said Sister William Marie Eleniki, who serves as president of St. Francis Healthcare Foundation and previously was principal of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Pearl City. “The St. Francis Intergenerational Center nurtures these families, while also providing opportunities for kupuna and keiki to share mutually enriching experiences.”

Construction on the $8-million center began last March. It occupies 1.25 acres of land in Ewa Beach and is located across the street from another St. Francis-run facility, the Franciscan Vistas Ewa, an affordable, independent living community for seniors.

Configured in a “U” shape, one side of the center will be the preschool, while the other will house the adult day care. A playground will be in the middle.

The center also will have an adult day activity room and lounge, four preschool classrooms, an infirmary, an expansive fenced yard and pathways suitable for both wheelchairs and tri-cycles. It also has a full kitchen to provide lunches and snacks. Eleniki explained that it is a possibility that the kitchen also will help provide hot meals to seniors living in Franciscan Vistas Ewa.

The adult day care center will be able to serve up to 42 adults daily. Supervised support for daily activities, as well as companionship, will be provided. The seniors also can participate in a range of activities, such holiday celebrations and music listening. Eleniki said that the center will help seniors avoid isolation and be more active.

“(Our goal) is to be able to provide a safe environment for our seniors and be able to give their care-givers an opportunity to do other things,” she explained.

The preschool will accommodate up to 92 keiki from ages 3 to 6 years old and is designed to help prepare them for kindergarten.

“We do focus on where the students are,” Eleniki added. “Not everybody is coming from the same environment … so we cater to the students’ (individual) needs.”

Joint activities for the two age groups will include exercise, arts and crafts and field trips.

“Having a preschool at an adult day care is really kind of a nice idea,” Eleniki said.

“It is very energizing to have little kids with seniors, because it gives the seniors more enthusiasm and hope.”

It works the other way around, too, as the kupuna can share their knowledge and life experiences with the children.

“It’s a win-win situation for both generations,” Eleniki said.

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