Thursday | September 21, 2017
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Summer program boosts youngsters’ creativity

Leilani Pacheco started the new Hokulani Arts & Creative Learning Center with the intent of creating a safe haven for local teens to work on art assignments that allow for problem solving, stress release, self-expression and discovery.

One of the center’s first projects is the summer arts program for teens, ages 13 to 18, however, those as young as 11 will be accepted. The program consists of two-week camps, occurring June 18 to 29, July 9 to 20, July 23 to Aug. 3 and Aug. 6 to 17. The camps take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Brewery Block on Pawai Place in Kailua-Kona. The cost is $30 per day or $150 per week and scholarships are available for those in need of financial assistance, said Pacheco, the center’s executive director.

Participants are exposed to drawing, sculpture, mixed media arts, photography, modeling, acting, music and Native Hawaiian arts. The goal is to tap into their raw talent, reveal their unhindered true expression, nourish their imaginations and explore their creativity. Here in “a safe, positive environment,” they can express their individuality, share ideas, take artistic risks, learn new skills daily and explore careers. Twice a week, guest speakers from the community share details about their profession, including why they entered their field, what it’s like and its qualifications, Pacheco said.

“The most vulnerable age group is 13-to-18-year-old teens, and with parents working while they are at home during the summer, these teens, who are in the rebellious stage, can really get into trouble with nothing to do,” she said. “Also, the YMCA has closed down, and most summer programs are for children 12 and younger. Many of the summer programs offered in the community are not affordable. Our center was opened because of the critical need for parents to have an affordable option and to know that their teen will be kept active and productive.”

Community support is needed to make the center and its program a success. Current needs include local professionals to be guest speakers, art supplies, snacks and donations to help pay the center’s other expenses.

Pacheco is grateful for the help she has received so far from a couple of foundations, as well as Manini Holdings LLC, which made it possible for the center to have an “affordable, month-to-month lease” at the Brewery Block. The center is still awaiting its 501(c)(3) charitable organization status from the Internal Revenue Service, she said.

The first day of camp was Monday, and 14-year-old Schelin Ireland of Kona was inspired.

She said teachers Hadley Catalano and Jan Pruden introduced her to Chuck Close, one of America’s most influential artists.

He is best known for his gigantic mosaic-patterned paintings and for helping reinvent the art of portraiture.

She was interested in learning more about and attempting abstract art after seeing how a bunch of photographs painstakingly gridded into tiny squares or diamonds can be gridded again on canvas to create “one beautiful picture.”

“I love art and have been fascinated by it since I was little. I love how art captures moments in time,” Ireland said. “I’m participating in this camp because I want to go into performing arts, particularly acting in action, drama and scary movies.

“I hope this camp helps me accomplish my dream. Already it has allowed me to embrace my creativity and do something I enjoy.”

Fourteen-year-old Lucas Barte of Kona thinks art offers many life lessons. On Monday, Barte said he learned things don’t always work out as planned, but you keep going.

He practiced this during the lesson that required the campers to chew a piece of gum for five minutes, then spit it out on a piece of paper and use a fork to create something. When his original idea wasn’t working, he made a starfish, which was “way cooler.”

Barte is passionate about art, especially photography. He wants to become a photographer for a magazine.

He is excited about the opportunity to build his portfolio and meet industry professionals who can give him tips toward making his dream a reality.

What Kona resident Emily Dungate, 14, likes most about art is how “it’s a fun way to express yourself and release stress.” Art was something Dungate, a Broadway hopeful, always looked forward to in school.

Besides giving her a structured activity to do over the summer, Dungate said the camp will improve her skills and better prepare her for the high school art elective course she’s taking next year. For more information, call Pacheco at 238-4940 or visit