PAIHI: PHYSICAL ACTIVITY (AND) INDIGENOUS HEALTH INITIATIVE
Pa‘ihi – Clear, bright, cloudless; neat, tidy, well dressed in one’s best; to honor
Childhood obesity is a growing problem across the state of Hawai‘i. It is also a preceding indicator to the development of a multitude of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. According to the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality, high levels of Native Hawaiian obesity has contributed to Hawai’i being ranked 15th for overall prevalence of children who are considered either overweight or obese.
Given these indicators, our Nā Pono No Nā ‘Ohana family literacy program operating from within the campus of Blanche Pope Elementary School in Waimānalo on the island of O’ahu, has added a physical education component to their curriculum, based on Hawaiian language and culture that explores the traditional daily activities of our kūpuna (elders/ancestors) and provides practical application of physical health to every day life. The program focuses on hō‘ikaika kino (to strengthen the body) and ho‘omālamalama (to enlighten the mind).
The children’s physical activities mimic what they would experience while going through an ‘ahupua’a (land division) from the ocean to the mountains. Included are going from a prone position to standing on a surfboard, then, picking ‘opihi (limpet/mollusks) on the rocks, and running away from an oncoming wave. As they make their way inland, they jump from rock to rock as if crossing a stream, and across a fallen log. They finish up their trip inland by running a rope across open ground, then returning with a weighted bag tagged with “log”.
Also included is a 100 yard sprint, and teamwork exercises through the building of a “stone” wall.
The PAIHI curriculum helps students to develop a firm understanding of how to strengthen their physical health and enrich their minds to function at the highest performance levels.
“Mālama pono i kou ola kino” ~ Take good care of your health…