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Keeping families connected - Kahauiki Village students work to bridge Digital Divide within their community

Louisville, Kentucky (January 18, 2023) — Joy. All anybody could feel was unbridled joy for the children of Kahauiki Village in Honolulu, Hawaii, when they learned they were among the winners of a prestigious technology competition.

On April 22, 2022, it was announced that the Kahauiki Village team had placed fourth in the Kids Tech Summit, a national competition sponsored by AT&T aimed at supporting and highlighting the voices of the future. The event is completely student driven, with the goal of creating projects that benefit the community and help bridge the Digital Divide.

That’s exactly what the Kahauiki Village team did.

So, what was the big idea that secured them fourth place against tough competition? A website dedicated to connecting families around this unique living community.

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Students from Kahauiki Village

Kahauiki Village helps homeless families get back on their feet by providing the support necessary to live a successful, fulfilling life. In addition to housing, the community offers unique services such as an on-site day care, post office, and laundromat, as well as help with budgeting and maintenance.

According to Family Specialist Kiana Whipkey, there are around 129 families in the Kahauiki Village community, including about 300 children ranging from infants to 18 years old. Due to the size of the village and minimal staffing, problems with communication would often arise.

The children of Kahauiki saw how this affected everyone, so they set out to make a change.

“We wanted something where all the community members could be updated with all the events we do,” said Kahauiki resident Jeremiah, age 11. “We can post pictures and let people know new things that are happening.”

Whipkey described the brainstorming process for the website: “They thought it would be best to create a group, which was mostly our third through eighth graders working together, and they would bounce ideas off each other. We’d meet twice a week, we’d sit in circles, and we’d talk about things we wanted our website to have.”

She continued, “They really worked together to identify problems within the community that they see or that their parents see. We just jotted down our main focus, and the older group took the reins on the website.”

Unfortunately, due to the time zone difference, some of the children who helped develop the website idea weren’t able to present during the Kids Tech Summit, but this didn’t stop the team from securing a winning spot, and helping to make their dreams a reality.

 “They were over the moon that they were able to talk about their project, and then they were able to continue to work on it,” Whipkey said. “They were so excited to let everyone know that their hard work paid off, and they are continuing to identify problems with the website and keep growing.”

“I am inspired to work with technology because of all the fun I had doing this project,” said Jeremiah.

This group was able to create a website that not only fit their needs, but the entire community’s as well. It is an easy and accessible tool for sharing information, asking questions, finding out how to get in contact, and learning all the ways to get help.

While earning fourth place at the Kids Tech Summit was a big win, the children of Kahauiki Village say they won’t stop until everyone has access.

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