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HONOLULU — The Hawaii National Guard Community Program’s Kokua Ohana Aloha program is designed to give young people who have committed status offenses ranging from truancy, to running away from home, or injurious behavior, a second chance. Members of the Community Programs team run monthly meetings for juvenile status offenders and their parents/guardians.

As Alexander Pope said, “To err is human.” For young people, errors can have a detrimental impact on the rest of their life. However, Pope also said, “To forgive is divine.” Here in Hawaii, first time juvenile status offenders are given a chance at redemption.

The goals of KOA Program are: Improve knowledge about the law as related to duties and responsibilities of Parents and Minors, Improve knowledge about Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs, Improve knowledge about Parenting Skills as well as Goal Setting and Stress Management techniques, Encourage and improve Access to Community Resources, and Provide Hope and Motivation to improve/ strengthen their family.

Volunteer speakers from the Honolulu Police Department and the Victory Ohana help families bridge the communication gap by providing motivational speeches and coping mechanisms for families who are facing difficult situations.

Find a dream and chase it. Find something you want to do and go after it; give yourself a reason to go to school rather than to just be with your friends, said James Price who who used to be a pimp and drug user and is now a bus driver and pastor with the Victory Ohana Prison Fellowship. “Be a nerd, because nerds are successful,” said Price.

“At first I really did not want to be here. I thought it was going to be ‘You kids can’t do that,’ but I realized that it is far more than that, and we have gained a lot from this,” said a single mother who asked not to be named. It is not like you kids are going to jail; rather, we were shown that there is something else we can do. “We are being provided with alternatives that I never knew existed,” she said.

The KOA program was formerly known as the Akamai Program, which was spearheaded by the Honolulu Police Department. As of January 2008, the Hawaii National Guard Counterdrug Support Program in partnership with the Family Court, and the Attorney General’s Office, has been able to successfully transition the program until September of 2015. The Hawaii National Guard Counterdrug Support Program in partnership with the Department of Health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division, and Hawaii State Department of Defense transitions the program as a special project under the Hawaii State Department of Defense. Many of the volunteers, speakers and organizations have been with the program for over ten years. From 2012 to 2015, 663 Families have completed the KOA Program.