So many of the youth in our community are doing amazing things. We want to feature their great work in ʻŌpio Spotlight. For this first ʻŌpio Spotlight, we are featuring Aubree K-Aloha. Aubree is one of ten recipients of the Ceeds of Peace Youth Action Mini-Grant. This summer, Ceeds of Peace invited Hawaii-based 6th-12th graders to propose plans to make their community more peaceful, sustainable, and loved.
In the interview below, our youth leader, Aubree, shares about her Ceeds of Peace project in partnership with the non-profit ʻEkolu Mea Nui. ʻEkolu Mea Nui was founded by Aubreeʻs grandparents, Jamee and Kalei Miller. Their mission is to transform Hawaiʻiʻs justice system through Native Hawaiian cultural practices and values. They strive to create innovative alternatives to incarceration that will heal and empower individuals, their families, and the Hawaiʻi community as a whole.
ʻŌpio Leader: Aubree Kaʻuilani K-Aloha
What is the organization you helped?
ʻEkolu Mea Nui
How old are you?
11 years old
Where are you from?
What grade are you in?
What school do you go to?
Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Campus
Tell me about your project:
I interviewed two people who became successful that came out of prison. I wanted to change the perspective that people can be successful after incarceration. A lot of people focus on the bad stuff about who have been incarcerated and you want them to remember the good side of what they are doing.
How did you come up with the idea of your project?
My grandma helped me. I knew she was doing her ʻEkolu Mea Nui stuff to fundraise for when incarcerated people come out so they can have homes. So I thought about that and I saw a video on the news where a whole bunch of people were not supporting the justice system. I thought it would be a good idea for me to change the perspectives of that and show that itʻs not all bad.
What are you hoping to gain?
I was hoping to gain some more knowledge on what actually goes on because I wasn't
too educated on all that stuff. To actually listen to people's stories, it educated me more and I could see another way of how things actually happen. That way I can show people the real way to see things and not just another way to show things.
What were some challenges of your project?
There werenʻt too many challenges. Some of them were just trying to get everything done because I had to finish it before I started school. It was also trying to make up the questions. Sometimes I had to change the questions right there on the spot because I didn't quite get what they were saying. That was kind of hard. I didn't really have any challenges.
Did anything surprise you about your project?
It surprised me how much hate goes towards all these incarcerated people. They are regular people. They just made a mistake and everybody makes mistakes. People look at them like they are monsters.
So did the project help you change your perspective?
It showed me a little more on how things really are. I used to believe that incarcerated people who went to prison were bad because they did bad stuff. Now that I am older, I can actually get it. When I was listening to my grandpa, it actually showed me itʻs not all bad.
What are some of your next steps?
We didn't get them (the interviewees) their gift baskets yet. We have to give them their baskets. And then just to see how everybody reacts to the videos.
When are you going to show your videos?
We put the videos together, like itʻs done. They wanted to also film me giving (the interviewees) the gift baskets. We are going to show the videos at the end of this month in sections. The people that I interviewed said that they liked it.
Where are you going to be displaying the videos?
Facebook, Instagram with ʻEkolu Mea Nui and Ceeds of Peace. The lady that is helping me, Sheila, also is going to post it on Focused Reality.
Is there anyone that supported you along the way?
My mom, kind of my dad, my grandma definitely, my puna, my Aunty Doral , and Uncle Jimbo. They are curious about everything. Kind of my grandpa (my momʻs dad). That was about it.
If you could give advice to other ʻōpio about starting their own community projects, what would you tell them?
I would say they need a lot of patience and they need to think outside of the box. They also need a lot of resources so they canʻt think like “oh yeah I can do this today.” They have to set out a time where they will be able to do it. A lot of times, I try to do projects and I start on it and I donʻt finish it. I just forgot about it. You have to set a specific time to do it.
What do you hope to be in the future?
I want to be a marine biologist
To learn more about ʻEkolu Mea Nui, Ceeds of Peace and Focused Reality, please visit their websites: