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.


An illuminating, rewarding journey toward racial equity

An illuminating, rewarding journey toward racial equity

Originally shared on Lever For Change by Ted Gregory, click here to read. While pursuing $20 million challenge grants, two organizations focused their long-term vision and learned about racial equity. After receiving the award, they’re expanding innovative, effective...

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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.