Sunday, June 2, 2002

Girl Scouts Kristine Wada, left, and Nika Nakamoto, shown here last year, spent a year collecting almost $3,000 and 2,500 books to stock Hauula Library as part of a community outreach project.

Girl Scouts honored
for service projects

17 isle girls earn the group's top
award for organizing efforts
to help the community

By Treena Shapiro

Mold had wiped out about one-third of Hauula Library's collection.

Then came Girl Scouts Nika Nakamoto and Kristine Wada looking for a community project. After they saw the empty stacks and old books at Hauula Library, they spent their free time the past year collecting almost $3,000 and 2,500 books to stock the library shelves.

"We wanted to help the library fill their shelves with nice new books for the children," said Nakamoto, a Kalani High School senior.

The girls spent a year collecting new and used books from companies, their friends and their families. They even wrote to the White House and received book recommendations, but no donations, from first lady Laura Bush.

Where they couldn't get books, they asked for monetary contributions.

"As for the money," said Hauula School librarian Natalie Zane, "rarely do you ever get such a large donation, so that was really nice to have."

Nakamoto and Wada are among 17 senior Girl Scouts in Hawaii who set aside part of their lives this past year to add major community outreach projects to their regular troop activities, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, scouting's highest achievement. The girls, individually or in teams, worked with preschoolers, senior citizens or schoolchildren, identifying ways to help the communities through activities such as camps and classes.

To be eligible for the award, a Girl Scout must complete demanding prerequisites and spend at least 50 hours on their projects, learning, among other things, how to mix community service with a busy high school schedule and extracurricular activities.

Sandra Moose, 16, set up a small computer lab at a retirement community and taught the residents and staff how to use it. She and her father, a computer scientist, also built computers for the residents from the parts of old computers they collected.

"A lot of the older generation are sometimes a bit technology afraid and they don't want to touch the computer," the Mililani High School junior said.

Her goal was to teach the residents to use computers as a communication tool, perhaps to reach out to family on the mainland.

Over the course of a week, Moose familiarized the residents with computer terminology, helped them get comfortable with the keyboard while learning Microsoft Word, and taught them to use a modem to get on the Internet and set up e-mail accounts. Her father then gave them a presentation on how to purchase a computer.

Roosevelt High School freshman Marissa Lee helped develop a music and art class to help special-needs children prepare for kindergarten.

Focusing on children with attention deficit disorder, Lee worked with Lisa Tuttle of the Movement Center and Arthur Harvey, a University of Hawaii music professor, to create an eight-week course that used music as a tool to stimulate the preschooler's brainwaves, she said.

"The music kind of helps them. It makes their attention span longer," she said.

Lee's role was to find musical instruments that 3- to 5-year-olds could use. Using household items, she made a drum, maracas, a tambourine and other instruments, which the children decorated.

She also designed a brochure to advertise the class, which she sent to preschools, and a newsletter for parents of special-needs children. Five children participated in the $80 class, which was offered through the Movement Center, she said.

The course generated interest among other parents, and Lee will be helping out with another session this summer.

Other Girl Scout Gold Award projects were:

>> "Kahaluu Health and Fitness Fair" by Aurora Crum and Jessica Goodish, who set up a health and fitness fair for students at Kahaluu Elementary School. They set up four booths to teach the students physical education, nutrition, substance awareness and stress management.
>> "Bridging the Gap" by Melissa Hirano and Becky Ogata, which promoted better relationships between young people and senior citizens.
>> "Hamakua Asthma Camp" by Mele Embernate and Briana C. Moeller, who planned and prepared meals that met the special food needs of all campers and staff.
>> "Have a Ball" by Tina Hamayasu, a one-day softball clinic for Nanakuli Elementary School.
>> "Kids Who Care" by Susan Hirai, who designed a community service curriculum for 30 students.
>> "Mentoring Youth Soccer Referees" by Adriene A. Sakumoto, who taught referee training courses.
>> "Take Me Back to Summer" by Kellie Kong, Lora Katherine Moore and Jeanine Pang, a three-day camp at the Institute for Human Services Women and Children's Shelter.
>> One Gold Award winner declined to be named.

Star-Bulletin reporter Lisa Asato contributed to this report.

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