Keiki Heroes campaign empowers children to stay healthy during COVID-19 pandemic

  • Courtesy image One of the posters included in the first phase of the Keiki Heroes campaign.

The Keiki Heroes campaign launched in mid-August aimed at empowering keiki to adopt healthy practices in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

The Keiki Heroes team provided free posters and fliers to elementary schools, public libraries, community organizations and local businesses around Hawaii Island. The project aims to educate keiki about how to adopt healthy practices to keep themselves, their classmates, teachers, ohana and community safe.

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The first round of materials focuses on three key concepts: how to wear a mask properly, when to wash hands and how to be a Keiki Hero. The materials introduce two keiki “superheroes,” Kai and Hoku, who empower local keiki to do what they can to protect themselves and others in these turbulent times.

In subsequent phases of the campaign, they will also present easy to remember mottoes and sing songs to enhance memory for younger keiki.

Working in partnership with a local pediatrician, Dr. Craig Burger, a grassroots team of volunteers worked on this project for the past three months to fill a gap that currently exists in information about COVID-19 preparedness: targeted communication for keiki.

“When our community is strong and healthy, we all benefit,” Burger said. “Keiki Heroes is a way to help our keiki and their families understand how they can help keep themselves and keep their family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Targeted teaching to children in a way they understand is an effective way to empower them, lower anxiety and educate their parents and families.”

Local artist and author Yuko Green created the art for the project, bringing Kai and Hoku to life. Jake Au, a college student at Drexel University who was home in Hilo for the summer, worked with Christian Engelhardt with Gum Design on graphic design and website development.

“I volunteered to work on the Keiki Heroes project because I believe it’s going to make a huge difference for teachers, students and families,” Au said. “I wanted to help school staff like my mom and students like my three younger sisters feel they have some level of control when returning to school.”

The Keiki Heroes project is funded entirely by sponsorship from the Hawaii Island community. In the next phase of the project, the team plans to add more to the website, launch islandwide public service announcements, create videos and expand to meet the ever-changing needs of Hawaii Island educators.

“Our sponsors have embraced Keiki Heroes, surpassing our expectations. Our first round of materials were printed entirely by local businesses,” said Gail Takaki, president of The Success Factory and Keiki Heroes team member. “The generosity of our Hawaii Island community during times of crisis is one of the things that makes our island so special.”

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Community sponsors of the project include Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, East Asian Observatory, Engineering Partners LLC, Gum Design, Hawaii Science and Technology Museum, Keck Observatory, Lex Brodie’s Tires, Okahara and Associates Inc., SSFM International, The Success Factory-NexTech Hawaii, the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, Hawaiian Electric and The Waikoloa Foundation.

All Keiki Heroes materials can be downloaded at www.keikiheroes.org.

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