The Nanakuli fire in March was the most recent scare for Waianae residents. Although no homes and lives were lost, thanks to the courageous efforts of our firefighters, the wildfire proved to be a frightening one for residents, including keiki.
On May 12th, Pablo Beimler, Community Outreach Coordinator for HWMO, was invited by Jamiel Saez, a FoodCorp representative for the school garden at Kamaile Academy, to speak to K-8 students about the importance of wildfire prevention and preparedness. Over 300 students flocked to the garden to tune-in to a brief, interactive presentation that included a fire triangle game to have students understand the core concepts of fire ecology.
For the remainder of each class, the students played a game of fire tag. Most of the students began the game as their favorite native trees, usually koa or wiliwili, and were tasked with power-walking to the other side of the playing field. The catch: they had toavoid 3-4 students who were “wildfire” and could move about freely and tag any of the trees. Once a tree was tagged, they became a grass that could then ignite passer-bys on the next go around (grasses, however, had to stay “rooted” to where they were tagged by only being able to pivot). By the end of the game, most of the native forest became part of an extensive “grassland” - students could clearly see the transformation of the native ecosystem - something we call “Hawaii’s fire cycle.”
It was also an important day for the school, culturally. Kumu from the Leeward Campus at University of Hawaii were invited by Jameil and school officials to help students build a hale at the garden. Pablo was graciously offered an incredibly beautiful lei as part of a blessing in which students led oli. It was quite a beautiful moment to be a part of and added a whole other level of excitement and significance to the day for HWMO.
Mahalo Jamiel and Kamaile Academy staff for sharing the beautiful garden as a space for us to teach the incredibly friendly and bright students!