Rant & Rave

By Anna Weaver

Tuesday, November 9, 1999

Programs give
state a boost


The following essay is one of the winners of the "Hawaii Leader For a Day" Contest. Its author, Anna Weaver, will have the opportunity to shadow Gov. Ben Cayetano for a day to be determined.

Other winners are: Erin Kimura, Castle High grade 9; Chris Sheehey, Pahoa High grade 8; Nicole Wilke, Kauai Arts & Science Academy grade 7; Kaitlin Luther, Kalama Intermediate grade 7; Kelli Koga, Kawananakoa Middle School grade 7; and Scott Nozaki, Waiakea Elementary grade 5.


TO many people, Hawaii equals "paradise." It's a place where the beaches beckon and the sun always shines. But Hawaii isn't perfect, just like any other state.

Our economy is struggling. Many young people are moving to the mainland, homeless people are living in parks and the airports and our educational system needs improvement.

If I had the chance to be governor for a day, I would enact three programs to solve a few of the problems mentioned above. They would be: the establishment of a Youth Council, the construction of "swashlocks" and development of an Ethics Education Commission.

I would set up a Youth Council through which teenagers and young adults would meet with government officials. Representatives would be elected by their peers and assigned to represent the areas of Hawaii where they live.

The purpose of this council would be to voice the younger generation's opinions on matters affecting them and the rest of the state. This would be a way for the "too young to vote" citizens to start participating early in the democratic system. It would also encourage youths to participate fully in political life while promoting voting.

MY second program, "swashlocks," may sound strange, but it would have a worthwhile purpose. These "swashlocks" ("shower," "wash" and "locker"), would be stations where the homeless could store their belongings in lockers, take showers and wash their clothes at no charge.

This idea may seem impractical with the small budget the state is faced with today, but the plan is workable if the business sector is willing to cooperate with the government. Privately owned business would contribute workers, construction materials, money and supplies to fund and build the "swashlocks."

In return, businesses would get publicity for their charitable work, as well as tax deductions. The homeless would also gain a little foothold in their road back to a productive life.

My third idea would address the problems facing today's schools. The Columbine High School shooting and other acts of school violence, the numbers of teen pregnancies and what seems like an overall decrease in a safe and nurturing environment for young people makes it necessary for the state to take another look at its principles.

I would establish a committee to address the need for a "Curriculum of Ethics" in schools. The committee would be composed of government officials, university professors who specialize in ethics and philosophy, and representatives of the major faith communities in Hawaii.

The committee would find ways of incorporating ethics teaching into the regular school curriculum. If moral values -- such as justice, honesty and respect, which may not be taught at home -- are ingrained early in children's minds, a decrease in dysfunctional teen and adult lives may result.

A youth council, swashlocks and an ethics committee are all feasible ideas that could be implemented in this state. They require the cooperation of all citizens and would contribute to the mental, physical and intellectual health of the residents of Hawaii.

Anna Weaver is a junior at Sacred Hearts Academy.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
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