RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mason Kauo, 6, right, and his brother Kainoa, 11, showed off new playground equipment yesterday at the Maili Land Transitional Housing complex in Maili.
A safer place to play
Two new playground structures go up at a Maili homeless shelter
Santa arrived about a month early for almost 100 children at a homeless shelter in Maili.
The McInerny Foundation was the Santa's helper that provided almost $70,000 to erect two playground structures in November, according to Theresa Joseph, director of the Maili Land Transitional Housing Program in Waianae.
The children of 44 families will no longer have to "cross dangerous roads" and brave speeding cars to play at the district park behind Maili Elementary School, Joseph said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place Wednesday.
Cheryl Kauo, who has five children, said her younger three can hardly wait to go to the playground as soon as their eyes are open. "I have to stop them and say, 'Breakfast first!'
"It's been great. They couldn't wait for it to be built. They were so excited when they first started building it. ... They love it, really, really love it," she said.
They can play with the other kids, and it gives them something to do, Kauo said. She and her husband, Jack, used to take children from the shelter to play at the public park's sand lot, but they would be chased off by volleyball players.
Other kids who hung around the park also were not "playing nicely," and there was "a lot of swearing," Kauo said.
Now the parents at Maili know their kids are safe, and can check on them easily, she said. The playground also benefits the adults because "they come outside and talk story with one another," Kauo said. "We get to know our neighbors."
Her children like playing on the big slide the best.
"Sometimes you crash into the others (at the bottom). It's fun. ... I couldn't wait to go on top it," said Kainoa, 11.
Alana, 8, said the playground structure includes "stairs with lumps on it, a tunnel to go through, a blue hippo to climb on ... and you can lay down in it (on the bottom)." She only wishes there were some monkey bars, too.
Joseph said the project was originally estimated at $20,000, but construction and freight rates kept climbing.
"McInerny gave us extra money; they were wonderful," she added.
The movement began last year to replace run-down, unsafe equipment with the new playground units for children ages 2 through 12. Construction started in October, and the playgrounds were ready three weeks later, Joseph said.