Michael Takeifanga, 5, Steven Takeifanga, 11, and mom Darcy Takeifanga posed in March on the new playground equipment that their family helped build. Darcy pushed to get donations and her husband, Isoa, spent hundreds of hours on his own to help construct it.

Parents’ effort gives
Kuhio Elementary
new play gear

Kuhio Elementary School has new playground equipment thanks to the efforts of Darcy and Isoa Takeifanga.

The couple literally took matters into their own hands after Darcy Takeifanga, president of the Parent Teacher Association, was asked to get the equipment, on a $45,000 budget.

Darcy, a part-time classroom aide at the school, started working the phones and writing letters "pleading" for donations. Isoa, an electrician, started working the land.

Because there wasn't enough money to hire a backhoe, Isoa spent six weeks digging the eight-inch deep foundation for the 1,200-square-foot playground "all by hand" using a pick, a shovel and a wheelbarrow, Darcy said.

Principal Evelyn Hao said Isoa Takeifanga refused offers to put out an announcement asking for help because "he's the type who likes to do things himself."

She said the couple's first son, Steven, entered the school when the original equipment was removed for safety reasons six years ago and graduated before it was replaced. Their second son, Michael, just entered the school and Hao believes the Takeifangas wanted to make sure the playground was finally installed for him to enjoy. It opened in March.

Hao would see the boys working alongside their father when she waved goodbye in the evening, she said.

Darcy said finishing the playground was important to her because, "I feel for the children. They have so little to do" during recess and after school. Instead of them "running around and chasing each other crazy," they now have something more constructive to do, she added.

The Hawaii masons union, Local 630, responded to her appeal by providing about $3,000 to $4,000 in labor to pour concrete because "it was the way you asked, how humble you were ... it touched my boss's heart," one of the laborers said.

Ameron Hawaii sold the concrete for the playground foundation at a "huge discount," she said.

Toby Portner, a gifted-program teacher at the school, said, "We never would've gotten the new playground if not for her," and in fact, "a lot of the school projects would not be finished if it weren't for Darcy Takeifanga ... she is a go-getter; she just gives her all. "


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