In October of 2020, when our local community was starting to really feel the intense effect that Covid was having on our school children and our Hawaiʻi teachers, When We Shine Foundationʻs project team, Rae Takemoto, Shelley Toon Lindberg and Melinda Caroll (Team Shine), began discussions exploring possible art integration ideas that could help create communication pathways to galvanize and support our community. The Keiki Covid Awareness Project was born out of those discussions.
The pandemic has been both frightening and de-stabilizing for children and for adults, causing confusion and divisiveness in our communities. Team Shine wanted to create a project that would give children a healthy way to express freely and to tell their side of what they were feeling, both the good and uncomfortable. We decided a song-story and stop-motion music video project could help them bring their words and images to life and then could be shared with a broader audience, their entire schools, their parents, kupuna and our local community.
Our intention was to help the Keiki feel empowered and informed by assisting them in becoming the creators of their own story. Our aim was to support their process in bringing out something meaningful, even something hopeful, from what they had experienced and learned, and to share it, maybe even inspire others.
We looked to the Hawaiʻi Board of Educationʻs HĀ philosophy, a poster and guide that is in every public school in Hawaiʻi to inspire us.
Teaching values: Nā Hopena A‘o (“HĀ”)-BREATH
We wanted each child to experience:
• A strengthened Sense of Hawai‘i: I am enriched by the uniqueness of this prized place. A sense of Hawai‘i is demonstrated through an appreciation for its rich history, diversity and indigenous language and culture. I am able to navigate effectively across cultures and communities and be a steward of my community and of the land.
• Things that people do to live can affect the world around them. But they can make choices that are empowering, calming and contribute to the whole.
Our goals in the classroom were help each child:
• To reflect on the role each person plays in creating safety and wellness in their own space, family and community. LOKAHI
• To feel empowered with knowledge and the understanding of what each person can do. ALOHA KEKAHI I KEKAHI
• To understand that their contribution matters – help to identify their role. – KULEANA
• To feel a sense of belonging to a larger community. - LAULIMA
Keiki Covid Campaign, Song and Music Video
Fourth grade students from Pōmaika’i & Kula Elementary Schools worked closely with two teaching artists and a veteran arts integration educator from Hawaiʻi to design a public health campaign that engaged students to embrace Hawaiian cultural values, as they connected to each other and connected to their place, their ʻāina, with the goal of respecting and caring for one another and the Hawaiian Islands during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Hawaiʻi educator and past Program Director for Friends of Pōmaikaʻi, Rae Takemoto, worked with their dedicated teachers and school leaders on curriculum and coordination. Teaching artist, Melinda Caroll engaged students to compose and record their own original song. And then, teaching artist Shelley Toon Lindberg, guided students to create a stop-motion animation film to bring their songs to life visually.
The Friends of Pōmaikaʻi non-profit project team collaborated with When We Shine Foundation to launch our Keiki Covid Awareness Project. Friends of Pōmakaʻi has been supporting teachers and students across Maui for over four years by supporting innovation at Pōmaikaʻi School, through place based, project based creative learning experiences, and professional development for educators. Their mission of empowering our community by connecting students, teachers, and all stakeholders to our ʻāina through rich arts learning aligned seamlessly with When We Shine Foundationʻs mission to strengthen and enrich our community through the arts. This incredible collaboration launched our merger of talents and resources.
Friends of Pōmakaʻi and When We Shine Foundation are deeply grateful to the generous support of The Saunders Family Charitable Fund, who believed in our vision to uplift and inspire new ways for Pomaikaʻi students to creatively tell their story of deep learning, through song and animation to the world. Our work with Pomaikaʻi School gave us an incredible opportunity to create with teachers and students and develop our program model to share with other schools. The Fred Baldwin Foundationʻs generous support allowed us to take our Keiki Covid Awareness Project to Kula Elementary, where we applied our lessons learned from our Pomaikaʻi pilot, and empowered both students and teachers to create together, then share their project with their community.
In February, 2021, Rae Takemoto coordinated lesson plans and dates with teachers and admin of both schools. Together they laid out a template that intertwined their regular curriculum objectives with our project focus and created a schedule that wove seamlessly into the teacherʻs daily flow.
Melinda Caroll Songwriting Residency began in March 2021, with 4, 45-minute writing classes that combined online and in-person participation. Once the song was complete, Melinda worked with David Kauahikaua to produce a vocal guide and rhythm track for the children to practice singing and memorizing to then record their song, Heart of Aloha. In May, 2021, the same process was duplicated at Kula Elementary School for their song, The Earth is Ours to Mālama.
HEART OF ALOHA, FEATURING the Studentsʻ Voices of Pomaikaʻi Elementary School!
Shelley Toon Lindbergʻs Multi-Media Residency began with the 4th Grade classes at Pomaikaʻi and Kula Elementary in May of 2021. She started by helping the children identify the characters in their story and designing their color wheel, drawing and painting the backgrounds. Next their instruction utilized multi-media digital technology and with special I-pad set ups, they composed the stop-motion visuals that matched the rhythm and lyrics in the song.
While Shelley was teaching the children how to create their artful storyboard and animating their video project, Melinda was digitally recording the children singing, one by one, in a small room at each of the school libraries.
Heart of Aloha is the name of the song and video completed by Pomaikaʻi Elementary School and The Earth is Ours to Mālama is the title given to Kula Elementary Schoolʻs music video. On May 28, 2021, both schools held their “World Premier” of their hard work and art-filled productions. The positive descriptive response we received from teachers, students, principals, staff, parents and their grandparents was both appreciative and joyful, with words like uplifting, enriching, unifying and the brightest spot of their Keikiʻs school year 2021!
The Earth is Ours to Mālama, FEATURING The Studentsʻ Voices of Kula Elementary School, May, 2021 (rough cut)
Both of these completed projects are now available to view on When We Shine Foundationʻs YouTube Channel
We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to add value to the public schools here on Maui with our multi-media and interactive songwriting projects that support whole child, integrative arts education practices, sustainability, and environmental literacy.
And we are very encouraged by the overwhelming positive response from teachers, students and the administration of these schools to continue exploring ad offering more ways we can share the children's music video message with all of Hawaiʻi and the world. If you would like to participate, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.