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Special Olympics Hawaii E-Newsletter

March 2015


Tip a Cop celebrates 25 years at Ward Village Shops

Serving takes on a whole new meaning for local law enforcement during Special Olympics Hawai‘i’s 25th Annual Tip a Cop event. On Thursday and Friday, April 9 and 10, diners can visit any one of six participating Ward Village Shops’ restaurants to enjoy one-of-a-kind service from off-duty law enforcement officers who will be helping to buss table and deliver food – all to raise tips and awareness for Special Olympics Hawai‘i.

Tip a Cop will take place from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at participating Ward Village Shops restaurants and during lunch from11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Big City Diner and 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. at Kaka‘ako Kitchen.

“Ward Village Shops is thrilled to welcome back Special Olympics Hawai‘i and our dedicated law enforcement to celebrate 25 years of Tip a Cop,” said Katie Ka‘anapu, Ward Village director of community and retail marketing. “This event is a great way for guests to enjoy our many wonderful restaurants and also support a great organization.”

And those who make a minimum donation of $25 to Special Olympics Hawai‘i at Ryan’s Grill will receive a coupon for 25 percent off their next visit.

Eateries participating in this year’s Tip a Cop event include:

  • Big City Diner
  • Genki Sushi
  • Kaka‘ako Kitchen
  • Ryan’s Grill
  • Wahoo’s Fish Taco
  • Kincaid’s Fish, Chop and Steak House

For an up-to-date list of participating Tip a Cop restaurants and eateries, please visit

Hawai‘i Schools Spread the Word to End the Word

Elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Hawai‘i joined schools across the country this month in spreading the word to end the word. The national movement to end the use of the r-word is rooted in the concept that language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions. Ending the r-word is a step toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.

“It’s simple, really,” said Stephanie Zane, Special Olympics Hawai‘i athlete and state office project assistant. “Please don’t use the R-word because it hurts.”

Many young leaders have taken this to heart and encouraged students, parents, staff, teachers, and community members in over 30 Hawai‘i schools to pledge to stop using the r-word through various activities and campaigns. Pahoa Intermediate School’s Unified softball team waved signs during school drop off and pick up. Thanks to their efforts they were able to have 38 students sign to pledge to stop using the r-word in just 12 minutes!

On Hilo the Key Club and Partner’s Club at Hilo High School collaborated to put on a Spread the Word Carnival, during which students promoted respect, acceptance, and inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Washington Middle School’s After School All Stars surprised their peers with a flash mob at lunch and asked their fellow classmates to pledge to stop using the r-word. Farrington High School took advocacy to social media through their #onemoregov campaign that encouraged the Farrington Governors community to pledge to end using the r-word.

By promoting acceptance and respect, we can change attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities. As Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver says, “Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it.” Hawai‘i student leaders are proudly modeling to their peers and communities how to live out that statement.

You can take the pledge at  See videos and learn more about Spread the Word campaigns in Hawai‘i and about Project UNIFY by joining the Project UNIFY Hawaii Facebook group!

These businesses are real sports

This season supporting local businesses can put an extra spring in the step of Special Olympics Hawai‘i athletes. A number of companies have stepped up to the plate to raise funds and help get our athletes to the State Summer Games this May. They include:

  • Menchies (Ward Centers, Kapolei, Mililani): Ongoing
  • Big City Diner (Kaimuki, Kailua, Ward, Waipio and Pearlridge): April 1-30
  • Teddy’s Bigger Burger (Kapiolani, Wahiawa): April 1 – 30
  • IHOP (Pearl City, Ohana Waikiki Malia Hotel, Aqua Palms Waikiki Hotel, Hilo): April 1 – May 31

When you visit any of these companies during their designated dates, please consider making a donation to Special Olympics Hawai‘i. One hundred percent of your gift will go towards hosting the State Summer Games this May. The annual event will bring together more than 1,000 athletes and coaches from around the state to compete in an Olympic-style competition.

Athletes will participate in powerlifting, softball, track and field and swimming, as well as other activities including a Young Athlete Program, Healthy Athlete Village and Olympic Town. This event – including transportation and housing – is provided at no cost to our athletes and their families.

Whether it’s grabbing a cup of your favorite frozen yogurt or deciding where to go for breakfast this weekend, we hope you’ll consider supporting the businesses that give back to our local athletes. Mahalo!

AREA FEATURE: Special Olympics Kaua‘i

By Jocelyn Barriga, Special Olympics Kaua‘i Area Director
Photo: Courtesy of Leona SaMcDermott

When you consider a group of special-needs students and athletes, it can be easy to see their disabilities. What might not be as apparent at first are the possibilities for growth and achievement these students also have.

Project UNIFY represents an effort to change attitudes and misconceptions about special-needs students through the efforts of both disabled and regularly abled youth leaders.

Tamarine Carvalho became part of the Project Unify clubs seven years ago. During the first two years, she worked under the direction of Rose Doi and ran the Project UNIFY clubs at two separate high schools, Kaua‘i High School and Kapa‘a High School. After Doi retired, Erin Dunn took over the program at Kaua‘i High School.

When Carvalho first got involved in Project UNIFY, it was hard to find people to join as partners. Coaches and adults accepted the role, but she and Doi saw that the program would be more fun (and potentially more effective) if they started a grassroots effort to involve more people in their work. They looked for children from local churches and the community, and then they brought the program into the high school.

Carvalho has seen growth and change because of Project Unify:

  • During the first two years, when it was time to eat lunch or play outside, the special-needs students would stay inside. That gradually began to change as they made friends and felt more comfortable being with other students. In the last two years, nobody sits inside for lunch anymore.
  • It used to be that during assemblies, the special-needs children were never involved in one of the school’s traditions where each grade level would go up and challenge other students to do something. That invisible barrier has vanished during the last two years. The special-needs students are included in everything that happens.

The program has become increasingly popular over the last five years. In fact, Carvalho has had to turn away children and even started a waiting list during the first week of school this year because the program works best if there is a cap on the number of participants.

After each graduation, the program generally loses about half of the children involved. The students who replace them know the program is something special and they want to be a part of it, but they also start with misconceptions. This is very apparent during the first two meetings. The unified children who have been involved in the program for a while come in, sit down next to other children, give them hugs and start talking to them.

The new children come in and sit apart. By the end of the first semester though, that has changed and everyone is comfortable being together. Carvalho doesn’t teach them how to do this. Everything is done by example.

Part of what teaches the students is just being around the special needs children and seeing for themselves that these children are different than they thought. They thought they knew what the special needs children were like in terms of what they can do and how they would behave. What they find out right away is that they were wrong. The special-needs students are people, just like everyone else, and the other students respond to that.

The sports teams are one of the main ways Carvalho has found to help the two groups bond in a natural and unforced way. For example, she has sometimes held a practice on Wednesday and then has a meeting the following week with just the unified players. Many of them tell her what they’ve learned: “I can’t believe so-and-so did this.”

The students who participate in Project Unify aren’t the only ones who have learned through observation. When Carvalho first began working in the program, she wasn’t told about some of the opportunities or events herself, never mind being given an opportunity to involve her students. That is no longer true, either. Her special-needs students are part of the school system and they get the same chances for participation as everyone else.

This year, Carvalho has particularly enjoyed coming to school early. What she sees when she gets there makes it all worthwhile: the athletes are there and so are their unified peers. They’re just hanging out before school starts.

Carvalho has made a difference through her efforts to reframe the way special-needs students are perceived. She is encouraging others to get to know them and to treat them just like everyone else, as individuals with specific strengths and weaknesses. It’s hard to understand or like people when you don’t spend time with them. The result of her work is a school community that is far more unified — and happy — than it was just a few short years ago.

Welcome our new development coordinator, Rexie!

This month we welcomed our new development coordinator, Rexie Adlawan. As development coordinator, Rexie works closely with Tracey and the development team to plan and implement fundraising opportunities for Special Olympics Hawai’i. You may have already seen her and some of her handiwork at the recent Polar Plunge event!

Rexie has a background in education and nonprofits including working with Kamehameha Schools, the Hawai’i Legislature, and other nonprofit organizations.

Born and raised in Honolulu, Rexie is a graduate of Roosevelt High School. She received her BA in interdisciplinary studies, and a minor in ethnic studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. In her free time she enjoys surfing, reading, and playing music.



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