In August, our keiki at Tūtū and Me learned all about the ocean. This is an exciting theme with many great learning centers focused on our activities and our connection to this precious resource. Keiki and families all shared in learning how to care for the ocean and the creatures that call it “home.”
In our Tūtū Corner, the keiki participated in a small scale beach clean-up, an extension of our monthly theme; mālama i ke kai, or to take care of the sea. In a bin with sand were some things that we find at the beach such as coral, seashells, and driftwood. There were also other items such as pieces of plastic, paper, and bottles that do not belong on our beaches. They were then encouraged to sort the items into a recycling container and trash bin.
Later in the month our families participated in a sustainable fishing practice by first “catching” a laminated fish and then measuring it. The ones that were smaller than the legal length were released. They really enjoyed the opportunity to catch them but they were also excited to learn about the fish we find in Hawai‘i as well as what is considered legal size limits.
At the end of August our staff and families participated in a beach clean-up at Baldwin Beach Park. Officers from the DLNR Aquatic Division joined us and shared some information on current regulations and changes made for the island of Maui. Our families received regulation booklets and coloring pages for their keiki. Many of our caregivers had questions but we all walked away with a better understanding of what the roles are of our DLNR officers and how we can better protect and sustain our fisheries.
To conclude our learning experience, our families were given gloves and trash bags to sweep the beach clean of all the rubbish. Many keiki were as excited as being on an egg-hunt as they shouted, “I found another one!” Pounds of rubbish ranging from small bits of plastic, cigarette butts, broken slippers and even an old shredded umbrella were removed from the beach. As we passed the lifeguard stand with our bags full of rubbish, the lifeguards came down to thank us for our hard work and asked about our Tūtū and Me program. The families expressed how great it was to give something back to the community and to be able to take care of our ocean. One tūtū remarked, “We have always talked about doing this, but always forget to bring the stuff. This has been so wonderful for us to do together.” As she shared that with us, her husband continued to fill his bag to the top by doing his part to mālama i ke kai. Mahalo to all our families who took the time to share in this experience and to learn the importance of caring for our ocean and our beaches.