Fourteen teens from the Leeward Coast have signed up for the Hawaiian Humane Society’s pet youth leadership project aimed at raising awareness about animal welfare.
Called the Waianae Coast Teen Advisory Panel (WC-TAP), the program is the humane society’s first formal effort to rally young people to speak out for animals.
“The Teen Advisory Panel concept is a large element in our initiative to develop Oahu into a model community for people and animals,” says humane society education coordinator Bonnie Osaki. “Teens have the passion, energy and drive to drive change.”
Among those lending their voices to the cause is Waianae High School senior Phillip-Joseph Krout-Adams. The 17-year-old auditioned for the panel earlier this year with more than two dozen other applicants. The panel was pared down to 14, and in addition to Krout-Adams those making the cut were Alexis Lacson, Ashley Bolahao-Maio, Audrey Danbara-Quiocho, Caitlin Strickland, Carly Nitta, Cherisse Colin, Clair Kahookele, Dakotah Bridges, Jessica Hagmoc, Kayla Economou, Krista Kaneao, Krista-Lyn Stephenson and Puaelena Tolentino.
“We (the panel) want to change how people see animals so people can give them a better environment and life,” Krout-Adams says. “I joined because I love animals and my community, and I want to do something for both. I can make a difference for them through our panel.”
The teens recently completed a day of training at the Kaimuki shelter, where they learned about animal welfare, leadership skills and project management, and did team building exercises. Throughout the school year, they will each build a “tribe” of at least 10 peers and will need to carry out six community awareness projects, the first of which was completed last month when Krout-Adams and his fellow students led others in a sign-waving campaign along Farrington Highway to encourage animal adoption.
In addition, this project, which is funded through humane society donors and grants from Kimo Campbell and the James & Abigail Campbell Foundation, serves as the model for future panels in Kalihi, Waimanalo and Wahiawa.
“The youth serving on this pilot project have exceeded our expectations. Their enthusiasm and initiative is amazing!” Osaki adds. “It is my hope that teens island-wide will help make our island a kinder, more compassionate society.”
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