Malama Maui Nui uses art to challenge keiki’s definition of trash

Malama Maui Nui (Community Work Day) launched a new youth education program in March that engages Maui’s youth with a hands-on art project to challenge the way they look at trash and emphasize the positive impact that recycling and litter prevention can have on their lives.

Over the course of the spring, the organization is holding 12 youth education projects at different youth organizations to demonstrate how items commonly perceived as trash can be rediscovered as elements of art.

City of Honolulu Art Commissioner Esther Pridgen has been brought on board to design and lead the first of these hands-on art projects.

Pridgen’s initial project involves turning scrap wood, leftover craft materials, pieces from old board games and more into a representational “junk art” wall hanging.

Approximately 85 youth from the Haiku and Paukukalo clubs of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui, as well as the Kihei Youth Center and the Paia Youth & Cultural Center have participated in these projects so far.

With four presentations under its belt, Malama Maui Nui hopes to further develop this initiative.

“Rather than automatically disregarding something as broken or as trash, we want kids to pause and wonder, ‘What could I do with this?’ ” said Dina Mezheritsky, administrative officer for Malama Maui Nui and a key designer of this youth education program. “The more creativity and fun we can employ in these presentations, the more effective our anti-litter and recycling message will be.”

As the program grows, Malama Maui Nui intends to continue serving the various youth organizations on Maui, while also introducing these hands-on art projects into Maui County schools.

Teachers interested in bringing the MMN youth education program into their science or art classrooms can call 877-2524 or email