Opportunity Youth Action Hawaiʻi at Kawailoa

Kawailoa translates to the long waters, describing an ecosystem of youth resources and supports that drive this transformative Indigenous initiative to replace youth incarceration with cultural and therapeutic services that empower youth and strengthen community.

Our Why

The Opportunity Youth Action Hawaiʻi (OYAH) hui at the Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center seeks to transform youth justice approaches using Indigenous knowledge, values, and practices to heal and empower Hawai’i’s vulnerable youth so that they become leaders of social justice systems, racial equity, and healthy lives.

News

How Hawaii brought its population of girls in prison to zero

How Hawaii brought its population of girls in prison to zero

Hawaii reached the milestone earlier this year of having no girls in its only youth correctional facility — a first in state history, officials say. It was a jubilant moment for the facility’s administrator, Mark Patterson, who has worked to reduce the youth prison...

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Justice Reform with Mark Kawika Patterson

Justice Reform with Mark Kawika Patterson

On this week's episode, Manu and Mehana are joined by Mark Kawika Patterson, Administrator of the Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center and Chair of the Hawaiʻi State Correctional Systems Oversight Commission. With over 30 years of experience working in the...

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About OYAH

The Opportunity Youth Action Hawaiʻi (OYAH) hui is a unique collaboration of state and nonprofit agencies at the Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center. Together, they are creating a pu’uhonua, or place of peace, safety, and healing. The partners of OYAH formally organized in 2020 and share a common purpose to transform punitive modalities of treatment and incarceration with effective therapeutic community-based programs rooted in Indigenous knowledge systems and cultural practices. In this place, Hawai’i’s youth can learn to become healers in their own lives, in their families, and their communities.

Learn more about Kawailoa and our partners »

Voices of Our Community

“They helped me out, I was homeless and I work at Kupa ʻAina farm full-time now. With the help of RYSE and Partners In Development Foundation, I got my own place and now I just want to soak up all this knowledge like a sponge and teach others.”

– M. Perez-Fonseca

Get Involved

Join this work to support opportunity youth in building greater belonging, purpose, community connections, education, workforce readiness and skills to contribute to and lead healthy, thriving families and communities in Hawai’i and beyond.