For the second year in a row, Hawaiian Paddle Sports LLC donated their time and equipment to provide kids from Maui Youth & Family Services (MYFS) with an afternoon of surfing, canoe surfing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding instruction and activities. The event in 2015 was held on June 23 at Launiupoko Beach Park and this year on March 16 at Ukumehame Beach Park. MYFS is a nonprofit that provides hundreds of youth each year with opportunities to succeed within a safe and supportive environment through outreach and advocacy, therapeutic foster care, emergency shelters, substance abuse treatment/counseling and more.
Kids who participated in the ocean activities day are part of one of the organization’s Tobacco, Alcohol, Drug and Pregnancy Prevention Programs, which are provided through in-school classes/workshops at middle schools throughout Maui County as well as through after-school activities. The programs allow young people to develop peer support from friendships made in a positive environment, which helps them stay on track and reduces the likelihood that they will later engage in dangerous and unhealthy activities.
“We are about so much more than just ocean activities,” said Hawaiian Paddle Sports owner Tim Lara. “We want to strengthen our local community and provide kids who may not otherwise have this kind of opportunity a chance to experience what so many visitors get to do every day.”
A participant in 2015 described catching waves in the canoe as “feeling like flying,” while another said he enjoyed it “because it might be a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. I have never had the chance to do these kinds of activities before.”
MYFS Program Coordinator Kristlyn Ambrose said that activities like this are important because they give young people a chance to engage in teamwork and challenge themselves in an encouraging environment.
“We are deeply grateful to Hawaiian Paddle Sports for giving our youth an opportunity to get out of the house and see that they can have fun in positive and healthy ways with other people their age. Without HPS’ willingness to donate their time and equipment, large group trips like this with so many kids at once would have been impossible.”
Hawaiian Paddle Sports also named MYFS its ‘Nonprofit of the Month’ for March 2016. In addition to surfing, canoe surfing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding, the company also provides outrigger canoe and whale watch tours. Visit www.hawaiianpaddlesports.com to learn more about Hawaiian Paddle Sports and all the ways it gives back to the community. To learn more about Maui Youth & Family Services and its impact on young people and their families, visit www.myfs.org