Monday, December 9, 1996

Name: Roger D. Watanabe
Age: 45
Education: University of Hawaii
Occupation: Children and youth parks specialist
Hobbies: Golf, time with family

Caring 24 hours a day

Roger Watanabe says being a specialist on children and youth hasn't necessarily made parenting any easier, but it has taught him how important it is for children to have good adult guidance when they're not at home.

It's especially urgent now that so many families have both parents working, or a single parent struggling to make ends meet. Today's tough economy allows less time for many parents to spend with their children.

"Find an organization like Parks and Recreation for the nonschool hours. Take an interest in school organizations to make sure that your child is given good, proper adult guidance," advised Watanabe, father of Alyssa, 12, and Jessica, 9.

Watanabe praised the dedicated staff and recreation directors in his department and credited them for helping him be named the 1996 Outstanding Adult Advocate for Children and Youth. The award was presented recently by the Hawaii Children's Campaign.

He also commended members of the community who have volunteered time and services for youth programs. "When you're not given any staff or budget, you really need to rely on the kindness of many organizations and individuals to assist you," Watanabe said.

For example, at a Teen Fest last April, the Outdoor Volleyball Association helped put on a big volleyball tournament. The Honolulu Police Department provided a sound system for the dance. And the National Guard provided security.

Such volunteer time "has made a difference in young people's lives in Honolulu" and provided the kind of healthy programs that children need outside the home.

"Take an interest in your child's activities, learning and recreation," Watanabe advised parents. "You need to care about your child, and caring needs to go on 24 hours a day."

By Susan Kreifels, Star-Bulletin

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