They completed their final exams for the fall semester, but medical students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine remained on campus. Trading their medical books for hammers and drills, they have spent the week working to build a large, wooden playground for homeless keiki.
The students are part of the Homeless Outreach and Medical Education (HOME) Project at JABSOM. They provide health services to the homeless in mobile clinics at nine different shelter locations, several days a week. But they had a special delivery for the Family Assessment Center this Christmas—a hand-assembled swing set, featuring an 8-foot long slide and a rock wall ladder.
The students wanted to give keiki a fun and safe place to play.
“I want to say, it’s probably not anything that the kids would expect and it’s a structure that’s here to stay and so I think that is pretty special. It’s our Christmas miracle,” said medical student Maggie Kwock.
The playground was donated by a supporter of the HOME Project. JABSOM students also filmed the wrapping of the entire playset as an entry into the Ellen Degeneres and Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. After the gift-wrapping was completed, they “unveiled” the surprise at the Family Assessment Center.
“The students have worked hard this whole week giving up their time. After studying you’d think they would just want to play and relax but they’ve sacrificed and volunteered so much time to just come out and make this playground and it’s all for the kids,” said Jill Omori, founder of the 14-year-old HOME Project and JABSOM Office of Education director.
Just in time for Christmas, these medical student “elves” delivered a gift of joy to children that will remain throughout the new year and beyond.
—By Deborah Manog Dimaya