Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Students Challenged to Develop Vision for Hawaii's Future

Lawmakers are inviting students across the state to participate in the Hawaii: Next 50 Contest,  which asks students the question: "What do you think needs to happen in the next 50 years for Hawaii to be the best place to work and live?" All Hawaii students in grades 4 - 12 are invited to present their vision for the future through an essay, poster, or video submission. The contest gives students the opportunity to offer their opinions about Hawaii’s future and to have a public forum to share those thoughts and ideas with decision makers and community leaders.

The recent 2014 General Election, unfortunately, presented us with a new low in civic engagement. It marked a record low voter turnout for Hawaii with just 52.3% participation by registered voters.

While this contest is not a solution to voter apathy, it is intended to encourage our youth to take ownership of their future…to have a say in what they want for Hawaii and themselves 50 years from now. If we can capture and harness the desire to make a difference among some of our young people, it might inspire them to continue to engage in civic discourse.
5th graders Rebekah Wellington and Trison Taeoalii-Kihewa speak to former Governor George Ariyoshi
The Hawaii: Next 50 Contest is inspired by former Governor George Ariyoshi's book, Hawaii: The Past Fifty Years, The Next Fifty Years, which provided a retrospective look into our islands' history as a state and prompts the next generation to think about what social, cultural, and economic roads we can take to keep Hawaii moving forward in the next century.

“I believe the future is not just for those who vote and are active today, but most importantly is for the young who are now in school. Today’s youth are smarter than when I was growing up, and it is important that we encourage participation and challenge the next generation to think of new ways to change the state for the better,” said Ariyoshi.

“When I first learned about the Hawaii: Next 50 contest, I thought it was an innovative idea that I could use as a teaching tool in the classroom. This is a great opportunity to actively engage my students to think positively and creatively to come up with ideas that will directly benefit them now and in the future,” added Carol Kim, 5th grade teacher at Lanakila Elementary School.
Lanakila Elementary School teachers Carol Kim and Camille Sismar discuss their involvement in the contest
Entries will be judged by legislators, community members, and educators throughout Hawaii. The contest is a collaboration of the Hawaii State House of Representatives, Hawaii Future Caucus, and aio Foundation.

“This concept was initiated by the forward thinking of Governor Ariyoshi, and I am proud to have been able to work towards expanding it into schools across the state,” said Representative Mark Nakashima, who spearheaded the Hawaii: Next 50 Contest. “I would like to sincerely thank the aio foundation for their support for another great cause and their continued dedication towards helping the community and our students.”

More information can be found on the contest website at and organizers can be reached at with any questions.

Hawaii: Next 50 Contest

WHO: Students enrolled Grades 4 – 12 are eligible to enter.

WHAT: Students are asked to read Hawaii: The Past Fifty Years, The Next Fifty Years and respond to the question: "What do you think needs to happen in the next 50 years for Hawaii to be the best place to work and live?"

Submissions will be accepted online in two categories: essay and visual arts (poster or video).

Copies of Hawaii: The Past Fifty Years, The Next Fifty Years are available by request via the Book Request Form.

WHEN: Entry deadline - January 31, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Winners to be announced in March 2015.

WHY: To challenge the up-and-coming generation to become stakeholders in shaping our future by asking them to consider how individuals and the State as a whole can make meaningful contributions for Hawaii.