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Happening at HYC

Aloha kakou!


HYC is pleased to share our annual Year in Review. Click HERE to see all that we accomplished in the 2020-21 school year!

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You can also check out our April 2021 article from the Hamakua Times. Be sure to pick up a print copy if you're lucky enough to live in Hamakua!

Tomorrow’s Innovators​​

By Jeannette Soon-Ludes

Honokaʻa, Hawaiʻi (April 22, 2021) – On an overcast afternoon Kean Wong of SupportHawaii pops in to the Hāmākua Youth Center to share a few “secrets” with the keiki. These secrets, he says, are the key to solving problems, both big and small. Drawing from a design-thinking model developed at the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, Wong introduces the keiki to design concepts that will help them grow into the innovators of tomorrow.

Empathize. Define. Ideate. Prototype. Test. For our keiki, practicing these skills means imagining the most fabulous birthday cake for Mahealani Maikuʻi, HYC Program Director. The first step is an important one: to empathize or, as one of our keiki put it, to “know how others feel and care about their feelings.” So, the keiki ask questions about Aunty’s favorites: chocolate is good but white chocolate is better, no to rainbow sprinkles but heart designs in purple and orange are cool, and ice cream cakes are fantastic but not with cookie dough ice cream.

After brainstorming ideas, they propose “prototypes” then test their prototypes by asking for feedback with even more questions. They learn that the perfect cake for Aunty might not be the perfect cake for someone else. In the end, there are five fabulous options, but a clear favorite has been found: a big cake (more to share!) with brownie on the bottom, layers of ice cream and cake, topped with a light layer of frosting, white chocolate chips, and purple heart sprinkles.


These beginning exercises in design thinking are made possible through partnerships in the Vibrant Hawaiʻi Resilience Hubs initiative and it is easy to see how these opportunities are the stepping stones for more advanced projects at the Kō Education Center. This semester the Hāmākua Youth Center is partnering with Kō EC to provide interns with real-world experience in designing creative solutions to local needs. Although the design challenge is different – redesigning and piloting a needs assessment survey to help HYC plan for the new ʻōpio (teen) center at the Okada building – the concepts are familiar: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. The impact will be better opportunities for teens, now and for years to come.

Watching the keiki and ʻōpio engage this process, from birthday cakes to real-world applications, inspires hope. Through their creativity Hāmākua and our island will have all that we need for a resilient future.

The Resilience Hubs are an ambitious project and the Hāmākua Youth Center is grateful for the opportunity to share in this island-wide effort. To learn more about Vibrant Hawaiʻi and this project, please visit

And as always, please CONTACT US by email or call (808) 775-0976 if you are interested in enrolling your keiki in our 2021-2022 programs.