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Community leaders recognized for work with health coalition

Maui state Sen. Roz Baker and Maui County Council Vice Chair Don Guzman were among five honored by the Nutrition & Physical Activity Coalition of Maui County (NPAC) at the coalition’s annual meeting on June 26. Three new board members also were named to the NPAC board of directors at the event.

The NPAC is a consortium of community organizations, agencies and individuals. The priority areas of the coalition’s work are the built environment and worksite wellness policies.

The coalition’s “Making a Difference” awards recognize the work of legislators and community leaders who further the coalition’s mission statement through their commitments to building healthier communities by promoting environmental and policy change, and education to support healthy eating and physical activity.

Baker was honored for her leadership, dedication and commitment to health advocacy and policies. Guzman was recognized for his leadership in support of the Central Maui Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. Lee Chamberlain and Saman Dias of the Maui Bicycling League were honored for their leadership and advocacy in supporting the formation of the Maui Chapter of the Hawai’i Bicycling League.

In addition to the “Making a Difference” awards, this year NPAC added the Chris Hart Award in honor and memoriam of Hart’s dedication, commitment, vision and leadership in the Maui County community. Mike Atherton of Waikapu Country Town was presented with the Chris Hart Award for incorporating smart growth planning principles in his developments.

“Maui lost a dear friend in 2012 with the passing of Chris Hart. Chris was a thoughtful landscape architect and community leader who generously shared his time and talent. He supported smart growth and new urbanism years before the concepts were widely known,” said Sandy McGuinness, NPAC coordinator. “The NPAC board wanted to honor Chris and his many built environment contributions, and so created, with the blessing of his son Jordan Hart, the Chris Hart Award, which will be given annually to an individual or project in Chris’ honor.”

The new business at the NPAC annual meeting was the election of officers and directors. The new members joining the NPAC’s board of directors are Randy Yamanuha, retired principal; Cynthia Reeves, University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; and Cecilia Potts, Masthead Communication. The new board members fill positions of outgoing directors Val Janikowski and Lynn Nakamura-Tengan.

Attendees also learned about projects that are improving the quality of life for Maui residents, and about how one organization on Hawaii Island is making streets more safe for all users. Robin Brooks, an educator at Kalama Intermediate, spoke about the new gardening program that will begin at the school on July 30. Students will be learning how to grow food and getting more involved with the outdoor environment. Kurt Watanabe shared information about the Safe Routes to School program and the difference it has made on Kihei’s Alanui Kealii Street for children walking and riding their bikes to Kamalii Elementary School. Watanabe is a civil engineer for the County of Maui’s Public Works Department. Tina Clothier, executive director of PATH – Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii – presented the work her organization is doing to add multi-use pathways and bicycle lanes on the Big Island.

Each year NPAC hosts an annual meeting to “highlight the accomplishments of those in our community who help our county to become a healthier place to live. It’s great being in a room with people who understand that prevention is the key to good health,” said Mike Morris, NPAC chair.

The Maui County NPAC is funded by the Hawaii State Department of Health’s Healthy Hawai’i Initiative through a contract with the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Office of Public Health Studies. The Maui County NPAC first convened in March, 2008.

For more information about NPAC, like NPAC Maui County on Facebook, visit www.npacmaui.com, email sandramaui@aol.com, or call 264-7895.