Impact radius

Summit + ‘Iolani School

Oahu K-12 Schools
Place Mōʻiliʻili
Text Will Caron
Thread School of the Future

Academic excellence and personal growth flourish in an atmosphere that is challenging and competitive, yet caring and nurturing. Through dynamic and personalized instruction in a multitude of disciplines, 'Iolani develops liberally educated, well-rounded individuals who are well prepared for college and ready to assume their responsibilities as active, moral citizens.

"Most high school students don't really know the community that they're going to be stepping into when they graduate," says Allison Blankenship, one of two co-instructors for 'Iolani's One Mile class. "We want that awareness of community to happen now, not after college."

Created last year (along with nine other elective courses) in conjunction with the opening of the new Sullivan Center for Innovation and Leadership, the One Mile course asks students to identify challenges in the community that affect Honolulu's large aging population and to create and execute solutions to those problems with the goal of creating a more age-friendly city.

"One Mile showed me that if I put my mind to something, I can achieve it," says Taylor Hamai, a 2014 graduate of 'Iolani who took the class twice during her senior year. "What we did in One Mile—caring about our society, doing things for other people—that's more important than math problems and textbooks."

Kirk Uejio, the second course co-instructor, says the course has three main goals: developing real-world skills like communication, getting the students to think beyond themselves, and showing the students that they can make a big difference in their communities.

The first half of the semester-long class exposes the students to issues surrounding aging, helping them to empathize with our kupuna. This includes home visits, guest speakers in the fields of gerontology and geriatrics, walkability audits and a trip to the kupuna-centered Live Well Expo.

Students engage in empathy challenges such as wearing glasses that mimic cataracts, using wax to simulate hearing-loss and wearing gloves that are taped at the joints to mimic arthritis, and then performing everyday tasks like putting in eye-drops, sorting medication and opening letters.

"It's not perfect," says Blankenship. "But they at least start to see how frustrating it might be to be an older adult when nothing is really designed for you—yet."

Blankenship says the second part of the course shifts the focus from identifying problems to working toward a solution that can actually be implemented in the community.

The course immediately demonstrated its potential to inspire students to do more. Hamai applied for a Generations United and AARP grant worth $1,000 at the end of the first semester. To fulfill the grant, Hamai developed an iPad training course which 90 'Iolani grandparents participated in.

In the Fall 2013 semester, the students decided to develop a single project idea together, which was to take some of the land 'Iolani owns at Date and Laau streets and turn it into an intergenerational community center where kupuna can interact with younger community members. While the Date and Laau property is still years away from development, the idea caught the attention of the administration and could be part of a strategic plan in the future.


Summit is Hawaii's magazine of ideas and style for the global citizen. We're named for Queen Kapiolani's motto, "kulia i ka nuu," strive for the summit. Summit is available on fine newsstands throughout North America and the Asia-Pacific region.

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Honolulu, Hawaii 96826
Ikaika Hussey
Creative Director
Mae Ariola
Will Caron
Copy Editor
Karen Shishido
Assistant Editor
James Charisma