Pope Plant Partners Come To Bellows’ Aid

It was more than just a day at the beach Sept. 29, when Blanche Pope Elementary students partnered with the military and other adults on the Bellows Sand Dunes Restoration Project.

The morning involved a concentrated team effort to plant 1,000 native plants on the eroded shoreline at Bellows Air Station, plus prepare the ground by clearing up nature’s debris beneath the ironwood trees. The 18 students — all members of teacher Eda Kaneakua’s “Be” team of fourth-, fifthand sixth-graders — had an outing they won’t soon forget. (Another favorite memory of the day, she noted, was the unlimited supply of Subway sandwiches for lunch.)


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Kahu Roy Brooks (center, back) leads the blessing with Blanche Pope Elementary students and volunteers from E Ala! E Alu! E Kuilima! (Up! Together! Join Hands!) Sept. 29 for the Bellows Sand Dunes Restoration Project. Photo by Nathalie Walker.

“What was really cool is that the kids got to partner with UH graduate students on their science projects — which could lead to better projects by our students,” said Kaneakua, who plans to return to Bellows with selected students to follow up on the project twice a week.

“It definitely made an impression on them,” she added. “I told them to focus on someday telling their moolelo about how they helped to save Bellows’ sand dunes.”

The restoration, also called Malama Kahakai, was rich in cultural elements, as shared by Roy Brooks of Waimanalo Hawaiian Civic Club and the nonprofit Ho‘olua. Brooks called it “a culturally pono project,” with the children helping fulfill the dreams of their kupuna.

“The role of our keiki, in how we reclaim much of our ancestral lands, is really dependent on how they are able to continue to plant and nurture what they have sown into the aina,” he said afterward. “How wonderful it was to watch these keiki toil in the early morning sun, with no other thought in mind than ‘let’s make this day pono for all who have gathered here.’ ”

“Our vision is to make Bellows as beautiful as Polihale Beach on Kauai,” Kaneakua said. “And we want the kids to know that things only happen if they participate. So if you want something to be better, be a part of it.”

Joining Bellows, Blanche Pope, Ho‘olua and the civic club in the continuing project partnership are the UH Environmental Studies Program and National Environmental Education Fund.