To counter COVID isolation, students create video keepsakes for kupuna

Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 5:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - “How do you want to be remembered?” the narrator asked.

“I guess I want to be remembered as being a nice guy,” Leslie Higashi answered.

That question and answer during a Zoom conversation between a high school student and a senior citizen is part of a video package called “Gifts of Legacy.”

“Basically what our project is is giving kupuna a voice and a chance to share their stories by giving them video interviews, and then creating videos from it to give back to them and their families,” Hanalani Schools student Skyler Murao said.

She was part of a team of students from different high schools who collaborated on the project. This month, they produced 30 “Gift of Legacy” videos with seniors in nursing homes and elder care facilities.

The kids came away from the encounters with a new appreciation for the wisdom of the aged.

“They have a lot of hope in us and they see a lot of good in the world because of us,” Murao said. “I think that was what touched me the most.”

The youth did the project for the non-profit organization Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders that helps young people develop leadership skills.

“We start our programming at the high school level where we train students in leadership. We have started a new work called Vanguard where we’re actually working with students, post high school,” Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders Executive Director Katie Chang said.

The organization’s mission is to engage, equip and empower young leaders to be tomorrow’s leaders by developing their character, critical thinking, competence and courage.

Since 2011, it’s worked with more than 2,700 high schools students, 90% of them from public schools,

Another video project was done by Kohala High School student Anthony Kaai. His “Kohala Chronicles” looks at his community through the stories of people who live there, including a farmer.

“It kind of is an eyeopener to me,” Kaai said. “The things that he said to me, I didn’t really know the dfferent things that he said that he’s done to help Kohala. It’s awesome.”

Students with the Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders created 200 projects during the pandemic, making for a rich database of project ideas for youth who follow in their footsteps.

“We’re really hoping that these projects may be turned into larger and larger projects as well,” Chang said.

Some 400 students from Hawaii high schools are participating in CTL’s program this year.

You can learn more about the video projects and other programs offered by the Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders at

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