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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 13, 2001

Students' compositions reveal caring family acts

By Esme Infante Nii
Assistant Features Editor

How do you know your family loves you?

Are there certain things your parents and other relatives do that make you feel cherished — not just the words they say, but the food and clothes they provide, the time they take for you, the priority they place on you?

Many young people in Hawai'i recently had reason to think long and hard about these questions. But they weren't pondering just for fun. They used their answers to create posters and essays for a contest sponsored by a nonprofit organization called Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii.

More than 500 students entered the contest through their schools and YMCAs, using art or words to finish the sentence, "I know my family loves me because ..." Students through grade 6 made posters; those in grades 7-12 wrote essays.

The purpose of the contest was to help young people become more aware of the different ways families express love. "It's not just saying 'I love you.' Each family expresses it in its own unique way, and that's a wonderful thing," said Jennifer Murphy, program specialist with Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii, who was the chairwoman of the contest.

"We loved all the entries we received ... and (the judges) had such a hard job narrowing it down to the winners," she added.

The students who sent in the top posters and essays were honored at a ceremony last month at Ala Moana CenterStage. Each winner received a framed certificate, a $100 savings bond from First Hawaiian Bank, a $50 gift certificate from Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, a teddy bear and balloon from Windward Dodge, and either a certificate for a pony ride at Giddyup Ranch or T-shirt and CDs from radio station 93.1 KQMQ.

Poster competition winners were:

• Kerri-Ann S. Ilar, kindergarten, Wailupe Valley School

• Sam Benzing, grade 1, Enchanted Lakes Elementary School

• Christian I. Kim, grade 4, Kailua Elementary School

• Caitlin Foster, grade 5, Holomua Elementary School

• Sara Ohashi, grade 6, Sunset Beach Elementary School

Essay competition winners were:

• Todd Yonemura, grade 8, Hongwanji Mission School

• Kurt Nagamine, grade 10, Mid-Pacific Institute

Excerpts from the essays

... With my family, their love is unconditional. Being a teenager is not easy, but my family is always there for me whether I am good, bad, or with an attitude.

I know my mom loves me because for my prom, she helped me find a nice tuxedo, and without my asking, she ordered a flower bouquet for my date. My mom wants me to get a good job, so she will constantly remind me of my homework. When I am sick, my mom stays home with me.

I know my dad loves me because whenever I am doing sports, he is always encouraging me, especially when I am frustrated. Concerned with my health, my dad advises me to exercise, to eat healthy, and to avoid fatty foods. My dad also helps with my homework and gets mad when I am lazy.

I know my younger brother loves me because he would massage me if I am sore from sports. And he is good. He cares for me so much that sometimes I tend to take advantage of him.

As you can see, my family shows their love in many ways. And I love them, too.

— Kurt Nagamine, grade 10, Mid-Pacific Institute

My family loves me because I am their pride and joy, which brings happiness into their lives. Sure they are not the richest of all the parents in the world but they are still able to provide me with a house to live in, food to eat, clothes to wear, lessons to learn, and most of all, love and attention. ...

Having them always checking on me is their way of showing love and care because they are always willing to drop what they are doing to help me with my homework or to talk to me about a problem that I am having in my life. They are also willing to take off from work when I have a cold so I can get better instead of getting worse.

One day, I hope that I might be able to do the same kinds of loving things for my own children and to always be there for them in any situation that they have so they know that I love them just as much as my family loves me.

— Todd Yonemura, grade 8, Hongwanji Mission School