By Pono Suganuma
HNN Summer Intern
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) Winners of the Make the Ala Wai Awesome contest were announced Saturday at the opening ceremony of the World Youth Conference at the Hawaii Convention Center.
More than 40 entries were received for the international student design competition. The winning projects were tasked with the challenge of rehabilitating the Ala Wai canal, which has a reputation of for its filthy condition.
A team of fourth graders from Noelani Elementary School won the K-5 division.
"When I grow up, if it is still dirty, then it's just going to reflect on my life," Owen Rappe, a Noelani Elementary 4th grader said. "But then if we fix it now, it will be clean in the future."
Iolani School swept the middle and high school categories.
"We're paddlers so we already knew that the Ala Wai was dirty, and that it needed help and we wanted to try to make change," Iolani school Junior Daisy Chang said.
Arizona State University took home the overall prize in the college category as well as an American Society of Landscape Architects award for excellence in landscape architecture.
"The winning designs of the Ala Wai Challenge highlight how the meeting of wisdoms between ancestral knowledge and modern sciences are essential to creating the integrated solutions that are needed to solve the complex challenges of sustainability and resilience that our communities face today," Matthew Lynch, UH System sustainability coordinator said.
University of Hawaii President, David Lassner, who presented the awards to winning teams, said he's excited to see the momentum this challenge created in moving Hawaii towards a more sustainable future.
"They can address these problems and helping them empower them to believe that their ideas make a difference is a start," Lassner said.
The World Youth Conference coincided with Hokulea celebrations at the convention center.
The winning schools received monetary awards and their winning designs will be sent to state leaders to be considered for future use.