Hawaii Success Stories

Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)

This story was submitted by YMCA of Honolulu. For further information, please contact Kamal Khaira.

Youth-led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) has changed the after-school programs at the YMCA of Honolulu. Teens are now engaged in identifying solutions to the issues they see in their communities. The approach has built leadership among several dozen teens.

YPAR guides teens through an eight-step process that includes:

  • data collection
  • data analysis
  • planning
  • action

Participants get hands-on, project-based learning experience in public health approaches.


children working in a garden


How it all began
In 2015, teens and adult allies at the YMCA received training on the YPAR process. They learned to restore a school garden they remembered loving as grade school students. The garden is maintained to this day, at a school with a 100% free and reduced lunch rate. It now provides hands-on learning experiences and fruits and vegetables for 456 students. The YPAR teens led cooking demonstrations using the garden’s produce and delivered nutrition education sessions to the younger students.

Next steps
After this initial success, another group of YPAR teens decided to assist in the restoration of Ulupō heiau. A heiau is a sacred site. The Ulupō heiau rests behind the YMCA building. The site sits atop a series of terraces that in the past were used to grow traditional crops, such as taro, for Native Hawaiians.

children working in a garden



Teens involved in the YPAR process have learned the importance of indigenous knowledge to health and community well-being. They describe it in empowering terms. They have also developed a teen leadership council. The council is focused on making change and impact in their community.

Evaluative Data
“I want to make a lasting impact that will positively affect many generations, and I believe YPAR is a great way to do that. Together, the Windward YMCA Teen Council works towards making a difference, building lasting relationships and memories, and bringing positive change to our communities.”
- Angela, a 17-year-old participant

The YPAR approach is measured and evaluated by process measures. It also looks at short-term, mid-term and long term measures from the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework and interpretive guide. This work is being led in partnership with the Hawaii Department of Health.


children working in a garden



Nutrition Education for Wellness Program Nutrition Education for Wellness Program

This article was written and submitted by the Nutrition Education for Wellness (NEW) Program.

The NEW Program is a statewide "umbrella program" that joins together five Extension faculty from the four island counties of Hawaii. As a team, they coordinate 31 projects that promote healthy eating and physical activity, encourage safe food handling practices and support the access of limited-income households to healthy eating. All of the projects benefit from this umbrella team approach and being able to coordinate projects collaboratively.

A significant part of the NEW Program is the alignment of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance - Education Program (SNAP-Ed).

NEW Program projects include: Hawaii Child Care Nutrition Program, Engaged Instruction, Lifeskills in Food Education (EFNEP and SNAP-Ed), Cultural Competence, Food and Nutrition Education for Older Adults, Food Bank and Pantries, Grocery Store Tour, Hawaii Foods for Wellness, Germ City, Healthy Meetings for Wellness, Grow Your Own, MyPlate and NEW Web-Based Gallery. Web project resources include: Diabetes Detection and Prevention, Food and Money Basics: Choices and Decisions, Fruits & Veggies More Matters, Food: It All Starts with Agriculture!, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, Food: Just Grow It!, Food Safety, Produce An Athlete, Produce A Plate and Food Skills Cookbook.

For more information, visit Nutrition Education for Wellness Program.

Type of Program
Nutrition education

Years of Program Implementation
2005-Present

Number of Participants
For FY 2013, NEW Program had direct contact with 6,473 adults and 5,564 youth. It offered 78 workshops with 11,805 total participants.

Target Audience
Target audiences vary from project to project. EFNEP and SNAP-Ed target limited-income audiences.

Program Evaluation
Program evaluation varies from project to project according to project guidelines. EFNEP and SNAP-Ed are evaluated in compliance with national programs' guidance and both participate in the online WebNEERS data system.

Statistics and Program Impact
For FY 2013, the limited income programs' reported outcomes include: 81% reported improvement in one or more food resource management practices, 82% reported improvement in one or more nutrition practices, 67% reported improvement in one or more food safety practices and 27% reported positive change in physical activity.

For further information please contact Naomi Kanehiro, Extension Educator Coordinator of the collective NEW Program Plan of Work; Director of Lifeskills in Food Education, an alignment of EFNEP and SNAP-Ed. All logos are used with permission.