Ti plant

In ancient Hawaiʻi, kānaka ʻōiwi (Native Hawaiians) turned to nature and spiritual elements to treat ailments, injuries and evoke overall well-being. It’s a method of healing called lāʻau lapaʻau, a tradition still practiced today and taught at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge.

To help address COVID 19-induced stress and anxiety, the UH Mānoa Counseling and Student Development Center (CSDC) and Native Hawaiian Student Services (NHSS) will feature a live presentation with Native Hawaiian healers Keoki Baclayon, a lāʻau lapaʻau instructor at Hawaiʻinuiākea, Lomilomi expert (Hawaiian massage) Wesley Sen and Jodie Leslie, a registered dietitian.

The livestream event, He Ola: Practicing Hawaiian Wellness During the Time of COVID, will be held on Friday, April 23, at 4 p.m. on Zoom. The presentation will focus on ways to integrate Indigenous practices to alleviate mental health concerns, diet and nutrition.

The virtual session is free and open to the public, and registration is available online.

“We are very blessed to have these guest speakers discuss their specific practices in Hawaiian wellness, especially during this vital time of promoting overall health,” said NHSS Co-curricular Specialist Kyle Help. “With this panel, we hope to not only inform the UH community of the importance of Ola and Hawaiian wellness, but introduce as a resource and highlight kānaka that specialize in these sustaining cultural practices.”

Help will open the presentation with mele pule (prayer chant), He Ola, to revive physical and spiritual well-being.

“During a time of collective emotional exhaustion due to the pandemic, we are grateful for the opportunity to facilitate this event that addresses the importance of integrating cultural-sustaining practices with mental health. We invite our local and campus community, as well as faculty, staff, and students at UH Mānoa to take part in this opportunity for collective healing,” said Allyson Tanouye, CSDC director and chief psychologist.

The event is partially funded by the SEED Initiative for Diversity, Equity, Access and Success grant awarded to three CSDC doctoral interns in health service psychology.

This effort event is an example of UH Mānoa’s goals of Becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning (PDF) and Enhancing Student Success (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.