Our Kūpuna and the ʻāina Project

With the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and restrictions, we asked the question: How has the recent loss of some of our social structures combined with the social and emotional isolation, affected our
community as a whole? And what about those who were already feeling isolated?

Through word of mouth and news reports, we knew that our elders and Keiki, our most vulnerable community members, felt this disruption of family and community, the most.

Our Project Series, OUR KŪPUNA AND THE ʻĀINA, was born from this need to re-connect. Our goal was to introduce inter-generational story-telling as a way to spotlight life values and place-based learning, combining traditional story-telling with digital multi-media, audio visual art that Keiki enjoy today. 


Our goal with OUR KŪPUNA AND THE ʻĀINA Project is to expand awareness of how the world and our place in it constantly changes outside of us, and within us. The children learn how their community has changed and how people have adapted to it, the value of resilence and perseverance.

HOʻOMAU - A practice in becoming an active, compassionate listener, a deeper observer, and to hear beyond the words being said by the Kūpuna. By understanding their contributions in our lives and in our community, we learn.

KA NANA NO A 'IKE. (By Observing, One Learns.) We explore the importance of showing respect for adults, teachers and leaders in our community, and to each other in school, on the playground, at home.

HŌ'IHI - The sense of belonging to an extended family and larger community, acknowledging the responsibility and integrity to uphold that connection. A practice of respect, especially toward our elders.

LAULIMA and ʻOHANA - Elevating Kupuna to a place of value & purpose in our communities to understand that Elders are living treasures, rich in heart and in spirit.

When We Shine Foundation gratefully received a generous grant from the Atherton Family Foundation and partnered with Hana Arts to launch this pilot project.


Prior to each new project, Rae Takemoto, Creative Project Director of WWSF, meets with the teachers and School Administration to "lay the groundwork" and identify the desired outcomes for the students, both academically, socially and emotionally. Depending on the theme, the teachers begin the "scaffolding" process of introducing the subject matter into the classroom lessons and focus. For Hana Elementary School, this process was ongoing from August, 2021 through January of 2022.

Aunty Puna...

Hana, already a close-knit community, faced extra challenges during the covid isolation including the disruption of daily resources and social services due to their remote location. This project invited the students to talk story with a parent or older family member about resilience and recovery during difficult times. It was a grounding experience for them to hear the about their own families.

Aunty Puna, a recognized and beloved elder and active community member born and raised in Hana, brought her own special style of local wisdom to the classrooms. The students loved hearing the stories about her life, and how the Hana community stays strong together.


Our song and music video projects begin with Melinda Caroll, Executive Director and Teaching Artist, scheduling her Songwriting Residency with the classrooms, four consecutive , 45-minute writing classes, online and/or in-person.

The songwriting process starts with the students choosing a title and each session s filled with age-level language arts and skill-building exercises, singing and song games, and creative, collaborative word games along with playful tableaus. With each session building on the one before, the song is complete by the fourth session.

Making a Stop Motion Video

Shelley Toon Lindberg, WWSF Visual and Media Arts Director and teaching artist, brought her Multi-Media Arts expertise to the 4th and 5th grade classroom. The activities over that week began with Shelley helping the students identify the characters in their (song) story, design their color wheel, and draw and paint the backgrounds for their music video.

Next, the students learned how to utilize multi-media visual and digital technology with special I-pad set ups. They composed the stop-motion visuals with the art they created that matched the rhythm and lyrics in the song. 


After four weeks of post-production mixing, assimilating and mastering, the 4th and 5th grade students who created Hana Days Gone By (Aunty Punaʻs Song) held their “World Premier” of their song and music
video. On April 10, 2022, they invited the entire Hana Elementary School to watch them perform their song!

The enthusiastic response from the Hana Elementary students, teachers and participating kūpuna, was shared by Kula El, Pomaikaʻi El, and the local Hana radio station. Social media was a-buzz that week!

After their performance, Becky Lind, Executive Director of Hana Arts, captured this short video of Aunty Puna thanking each of the students who participated in their special project! The students were proud of their work and it showed!

Hana Days Gone By, featuring the 4th & 5th Grade Students of Hana Elementary School


When We Shine gained many new friends and community membersʻ support of whom we want to thank for this pilot project of OUR KŪPUNA AND THE ʻĀINA!

Mahalo to the Atherton Family Foundation for your generosity helping fund this project!

We so appreciative of our new community partner, Hana Arts, for their skills, expertise and position as arts advocates in the Hana community! More, please!

To the 4th and 5th Grade Teachers, Beth and Grant Senner, our Humble Thanks for your willingness and your time in for sharing your amazing students with us!

The teachers and Admin of Hana Elementary, Middle and High School are the BEST!

And to Aunty Puna, youʻll always have our heartfelt Mahalo and Aloha Nui Loa!


We are encouraged by the overwhelming positive response from teachers, students and the administration of Hana and the other schools we work with to continue exploring and offering more ways we can share the children's music video message with all of Hawaiʻi and the world. If you would like to join in, please contact us at glow@whenweshine.org.