Imua Family Services celebrated the start of a series of projects, including the second location for an Imua Inclusion Preschool. With offsite work beginning near the Will Smith Imua Discovery Garden, the facility has already begun its search for new students and educators. The innovative program will fully embrace the concept of outdoor nature-based learning, utilizing the environment to learn experientially and through the exploration of the world around us.
Organization leaders say Hawaiʻi, and Maui specifically, has long been in critical need of preschools and childcare programs.
“Fewer than 43% of children in Hawaiʻi have access to early education, resulting in serious outcomes related to our children’s educational success,” according to Imua. The islands’ shortage of early education opportunities predates the fires of this past August, and though the disaster has shone a spotlight on the critical need.
Imua Family Services’ efforts have increased in recent months, ramping up its efforts to better serve the children of Maui and continue to offer quality early childhood learning experiences and preschool education for Maui’s keiki.
Housed on six acres formerly known as the Yokouchi family estate, the property helps bring balance to the traditional therapeutic and clinical services the agency is best known for by combining these traditional modalities with the inclusion of nature-based learning and play-based activities.
Imua Family Services once again will be working with MC3 Architects, who designed its Early Childhood Development Center in Kahului back in 2014, as well as CHP Maui, which provided landscape architectures services for Pundy Yokouchi on the same property over 30 years ago. Castaway Construction secured the bid to execute the intended construction and improvements in 2021, and work is now ready to begin.
In a recent speech on the property, Mayor Richard Bissen reflected on his childhood memories growing up nearby, noting that the space was always considered a “mystery place,” as it was not accessible to him or his friends due to its private ownership.
Now, in the hands of Imua Family Services, the property regularly hosts a multitude of community gatherings, welcoming thousands of families with young children, connecting neighbors to one another through their annual holiday festivals, and enriching the lives of keiki through day camps, field trips, and enrichment programs. The ultimate goal of these activities is to bring fulfillment to Imua Family Services’ mission of helping all children reach their full potential, organization leaders said.
As Imua Discovery Garden moves closer to completion, the community will enjoy additions alongside the new preschool, including a butterfly house exhibit, a native Hawaiian ethnobotanical garden and vegetable gardens.
Imua Family Services is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and realizes all of its dreams through the support of individual and corporate donations, family foundations, and other grantors. The public is invited to visit Imua’s current sculpture exhibit, Earth to Sky, which continues to operate while construction on the preschool is ongoing.