Sarah Pacheco
Wednesday - November 21, 2007
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Emma Wo, Emily Chung, Krysten Irion, Nicole Pfeffer, Elizabeth Sugahara, Jasmine Wong and Alena Yocum partnered with Hahaione Elementary School recently to do what most high school students would dread: teach.

But these girls from Girl Scout Troop 507 welcomed the challenge of not only wrangling children in grades PreK-5, but of getting them interested in a healthy lifestyle. That meant telling a room full of 6-year-olds to turn off the PlayStation and to finish their broccoli. The girls also organized a Fun Run, the first of its kind for the public school located in Hawaii Kai.

This event served as the troop’s Gold Award Project, the equivalent to the Eagle Award project for Boy Scouts. Instead of doing a clich activity, the girls wanted to work on a project that was challenging enough for the whole group, but that was fun.

“I think the project has to gear toward the troop’s interest,” says Jasmine. “Some troops are more interested in caring for the environment, while others care more about education and childhood development.”

What they focused on was encouraging children to live healthy lifestyles. The seven graduating members did this by developing a health and P.E. program, including instructional and assessment materials, based on the new state Department of Education Content & Performance Standards for Health and Physical Education.

“We wanted something that would not have just a finite end, but something that would live on,” says troop leader Vicky Chiu-Irion. “They were talking about projects, so we talked about how we could impact the community. It’s more like teach the teacher or train the trainer ... They developed all the materials and curriculum and then trained the teachers so the school can continue to use this [program].”

Chiu-Irion adds that healthy eating and physical fitness are two new standards for the DOE, and that teachers at Haha`ione would have needed to develop some sort of teaching program this school year. Instead, the 17- and 18-year-olds tackled a task many older, more experienced individuals would shy away from. The girls also created handouts for the run and evaluation tools to judge the success of their teaching venture.

The Fun Run was held Aug. 22 as a finale to the instructional unit the girls had taught at the beginning of the school year. More than 390 students participated, collecting pledges by completing laps and earning prizes donated by sponsors Foodland Supermarket, Girl Scout Troop 507, Honda Education Learning Partners, McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii, Jamba Juice, The Custom Company, Servco Pacific and school parents.

At the Oct. 29 awards ceremony, it was announced that a grand total of $10,433.35 had been raised. Part of the proceeds will go toward hiring a music teacher and beginning a music program.

Additionally, monies from the event will benefit the Hahaione PTSA and will provide additional resources such as computers and part-time teachers in the classrooms.

“I’ve never seen a project like this done in an elementary school before,” Emma notes.

All the materials and information that were developed are being turned over so Haha`ione, and other interested schools, can use them again.

And the PTSA will be able to conduct a Fun Run in future years now that the building blocks are now firmly in place.

They all agree they learned valuable life lessons from this final project. Krysten, Alena and Emily say they hope that they were able to leave a positive impact on their pupils. “We hope we’ve started something at least, because it starts with the kids and pyramids up to reach everyone else throughout their community,” Jasmine adds.

Up next on their agendas is graduation. All are seniors at Punahou - except Emily, who attends Mid Pacific Institute - and are getting those college applications filled out and ready to mail.

A round of giggles erupts when asked about the possibility of teaching careers. “It’s hard,” Elizabeth confesses. “I give the teachers credit for taking on such a hard job.”

Nicole is curious about the field of communications and hopes to learn more next year at her dream school, USC. For the other girls of Troop 507, the leadership, organizational and social skills they have gained will surely see them through their final year of high school and onto successful futures.

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