Thanks to the support of former and current Board Members, as well as the Wailea Community Association and the Maui Job Corps, Malama Family Recovery Center was recently able to completely overhaul the backyard at its residential and main counseling facility and install fun and safe playground equipment for clients’ children.
The playground is available for children of clients who are in the residential and outpatient programs. The variety of playground pieces provide entertainment and enhance the early childhood learning process by helping with gross and fine motor development and providing opportunities for dramatic play and multisensory experiences. These new and challenging activities help children learn how to self-regulate, or deal with stressful situations appropriately. Children who need physical activity to calm their sensory systems can use the trampoline. Staff members now have additional opportunities to model positive interaction and redirection and to observe clients’ parenting skills in a variety of situations.
Perhaps most importantly, this new outdoor space and playground is a wonderful place for mothers to be outside and connect with their children. The peekaboo tunnel provides a perfect bonding moment as mother and child stare at one another. This simple act rebuilds relationships that have been shattered by the emotional and physical distance caused by drug use.
Before the project the backyard was unsafe, as it was rocky and lacked landscaping. After raising enough money through donations from former Board Members Stephen Kealoha and Robert Hankey and current Board Members Maren McBarnet, Helen McCord, George Carlson and Jerry Welch, as well as the Wailea Community Association, a work day was organized to overhaul the backyard.
Malama staff and clients prepared the area by clearing the space of rocks and other materials like leaves and branches. During the work day, which was led by Stephen Kealoha, the ground was leveled, new sod grass was planted, the fence was fixed and patchy areas of grass were fertilized. Individuals from the Maui Job Corps, as well as Malama Clinical Director Lisa Ponichtera, current Board Member Kris Baptist and Development Coordinator Frances Duberstein, volunteered during the work day. After the new grass was watered and the patchy areas filled in, a variety of fun and stimulating playground pieces were installed.
On Tuesday, April 29th a ceremony was held to celebrate the new backyard and playground and honor those who made it possible. In attendance were current Board Members Teena Rasmussen, Maren McBarnet, Helen McCord and Kris Baptist; former Board Member Stephen Kealoha; Maui Job Corps Recreation Coordinator Ryan Frazee; Wailea Community Association President Bud Pikrone; Malama supporters Alec McBarnet and Jeanne Riley; Malama Clinical Director Lisa Ponichtera; and Aloha House/Malama Family Recovery Center/Maui Youth & Family Services Chief Executive Officer Jud Cunningham and Development Coordinator Frances Duberstein.