Bíodh do thrioblóidí níos lú agus do bheannacht níos mó, agus ní thagann aon ní ach sonas trí do dhoras.

This Gaelic phrase translates out roughly as “May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door.”

Given the challenges facing youth in Hawaii and around the world in both the present and the future, this blessing feels less like a hopeful wish than a call to action for what could be.

At HawaiiKidsCAN, we also feel a special connection due to an exciting new partnership that we have launched to take the work of youth advocacy to the next level. As an organization focused on education innovation and equity, we’ve centered youth voices through programs like We Are Voices of Excellence (WAVE), Youth Action Alliance Hawaii (YAAH), and the Hawaii Youth Advocacy Film Contest, as well as a student member of our board.

Because of this prior work, are thrilled for the opportunity to team up renowned international peacebuilding organization Co-operation Ireland. Founded in 1979, Co-operation Ireland has been a key leader in strengthening community resilience and positive relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, helping to address decades of tension and violence. The organization has received numerous recognitions, including from the late Queen Elizabeth II.

In recognition of parallels with Hawaii as an island community facing the impact of climate change, complex historical tensions, and a need for greater educational and economic opportunities for youth, this is a dynamic partnership that has spanned time zones and virtual conversations between youth this past year, culminating in a delegation of students and educators from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland earlier this month.


While in Hawaii, the delegation engaged in learning and sharing with local youth, community leaders, and schools. Highlights included:

    • Marking hard-won peace at the 78th annual End of WWII Commemoration Ceremony aboard the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor.
    • Contributing to the restoration of the Heʻeia Fishpond and connecting with Native Hawaiian and Irish cultural and spiritual practices.
    • Discussing peace and history with Ashleigh Loa, Executive Director of Ceeds of Peace, at the Bishop Museum.
    • Engaging with local public and private school students to envision brighter futures facilitated through the Rediscovering Hawai‘i’s Soul process with the Hawaiʻi Executive Collaborative, Duane Kurisu, and Mehana Hind.
    • Being welcomed by First Lady Jaime Kanani Green into her home of Washington Place for a tour and lunch discussion with local public and private school students.
    • Volunteering with youth (and teaching traditional dances) at Princess Ruth Keʻelikolani Middle School through After-School All-Stars Hawaii.
    • Touring Waianae High School’s Marine Science Learning Center aquaculture CTE program with local students and teachers.
    • Speaking with teachers and administrators at Kamaile Academy Public Charter School and touring the Navigators Center and community garden.
    • Rounding out the week with the Davis Democracy Initiative at Punahou School, with the Co-operation Ireland youth and educator team teaching a section of high school European History to share about the peace process between Northern Ireland and Co-operation Ireland.


We’re grateful to the many partners who made this delegation visit possible (especially Brett Carey, the McClellan family, former YAAH student Lana Lubecke, former WAVE student Erin Enriques, Mele Kānealiʻi, Travis Hancock, Paula Fitzell, David Ball, Pamela Sakamoto, Tiffany Frias, Jill Baldemor, Jeff Arce, Tiffany Huynh, Ryan Tong, Tyson Arasato, Keli’i Kotubetey, Ashleigh Loa, Lynelle Marble, Darcie Yukimura, Kimberly Vierra, Aaron Schorn, Frank Clay, and the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa), and we found a positive reception to the timely message of hope, resilience, and relationships everywhere we went. Through their time in Hawaii, Co-operation Ireland intends to welcome a delegation of Hawaii students and educators to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in 2024.

Interested in learning how to get involved, including joining virtual conversations, nominating a local student to join the Hawaii delegation, or helping to sponsor a travel scholarship for a student? Please complete this short form at your convenience.

Thank you, mahalo, and go raibh míle maith agat,


PS – here are some quick reflections from Tiarnan (student) and Mags (educator) on their experience.


David is the founding executive director of HawaiiKidsCAN. He lives in Honolulu, HI.


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