Three Youth win top $1000 prizes in the Ini Pono Challenge

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October 1, 2021
Mikaela Tirona of Baldwin High, Angie Pustelnik of St. Anthony School and Shalev Sabag of Lahaina Intermediate each took home the top prize of $1,000 in the 2021 ‘Imi Pono: The Greatest Challenge media contest.

A virtual ceremony was held Thursday, Sept. 30, to announce the winners in the youth media contest, which centered on the theme “The Four Ws — Wear Your Mask, Wash Your Hands, Watch Your Distance and Worldwide Vaccination.” Twenty-one high school and intermediate finalists submitted art, photography and video public awareness campaign entries.

Awards were presented to the top three honorees in the High School, Middle School Art & Photography and Middle School Art & Videography categories. First place winners in each category received $1,000; second place, $500; and third place, $250. All other finalists received $20 gift cards from Zippy’s.

Cash prizes were sponsored by Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union.

The judges were Mary Albitz of Island Art Party, Christopher McGee of The Avocado Group, Sylvia Ho of HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union, Rick Nava of MSI Maui, and Sherri Reeve of Sherri Reeve Gallary and Gifts.

In the High School category, Tirona, a junior, created a public service video highlighting “The Four Ws” to capture first place. Jasmyne Imamoto, a senior at Lahainaluna High, took second place with a photography entry and Maria King, a senior at St. Anthony School, took third place with an art entry.

Pustelnik, a 7th grader, won the Middle School Art & Photography category with a poster showing the Earth wearing a mask and showered by water and with an injection in the planet and people social distancing. Mahie Miyagawa, 8th grader at Kamehameha Schools Maui, took second place with an art entry, and Lincoln Livermore, 7th grader at Lahaina Intermediate School, took third with an art entry.

Sabag, a 7th grader, was judged the top entrant in the Middle School Art & Videography category for a video featuring a rubber ducky boy going to get his vaccination. Kalena Mariana and Allie Kennedy, Kamehameha Schools Maui 8th graders, finished in second place and Myla Tuitele and Braelyn Hong, Kamehameha Schools Maui 8th graders, took third place.

“I am proud of our students who have once again demonstrated through the ‘Imi Pono Challenge that they are the problem-solving and decision-making leaders of tomorrow,” said Maui County Chair Alice Lee, the creator of the first ‘Imi Pono contest last year. “Each student who participated in this public awareness campaign is a winner.

“Thank you for your hard work and commitment to help us fight this deadly virus!”

“Congratulations to all the students who entered the ‘Imi Pono Challenge,” said Debbie Cabebe, CEO of Maui Economic Opportunity, an organizer of this year’s contest. “So much creativity and imagination went into all the entries, and all were so professionally done. Government agencies and TV stations should consider using their work to further the important cause of fighting the spread of COVID-19.”

“I am always impressed by the talents our youth display during the ‘Imi Pono contest. This year, students leveraged their artistic and communication skills to share important health and safety messages during the pandemic,” said Pamela Tumpap, President of the Maui Chamber of Commerce, partnering with MEO on judging and prize awards. “The judges were impressed by the abilities and professionalism found in each entry.”

The awards ceremony, which included presentations of all 21 finalists, can be viewed on the MEO and Maui Chamber Facebook pages.

The second annual ‘Imi Pono challenge was sponsored by the Maui County Council and Maui County Office of Economic Development and produced by MEO’s Youth Services and Business Development Center and the Maui Chamber of Commerce. ‘Imi Pono means “to search for the right way.”

This is a screenshot of Mikaela Tirona’s first place high school division video in the 2021 ‘Imi Pono: The Greatest Challenge media contest. Tirona is a junior at Baldwin High.

Angie Pustelnik, a 7th grader at St. Anthony School, created this poster, which focused on “The Four Ws — Wear Your Mask, Wash Your Hands, Watch Your Distance and Worldwide Vaccination.” Pustelnik finished first in the Middle School Art & Photography category of the 2021 ‘Imi Pono: The Greatest Challenge media contest.
Shalev Sabag, a 7th grader at Lahaina Intermediate, took home the top prize of $1,000 in the Middle School Art & Videography category in the 2021 ‘Imi Pono: The Greatest Challenge media contest.
Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee offered a few remarks during the awards ceremony for the ‘Imi Pono Challenge. Lee spearheaded the creation of the media contest for youths last year.
Maui Economic Opportunity CEO Debbie Cabebe speaks during the virtual ‘Imi Pono Challenge awards ceremony with MEO Youth Services’ Jacob Hara as technician.
Maui Chamber of Commerce President Pamela Tumpap announced the honorees in the ‘Imi Pono Challenge and noted the tough job judges had in selecting the first, second and third place entries.
Maui Economic Opportunity Youth Services Director Dane Ka‘ae announced the Middle School art and video entries.
Maui Economic Opportunity Business Development Center Director David Daly announced the entries in the high school division of the ‘Imi Pono Challenge.

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