Jamie Lyn Leonardi, Jacqueline Camit, and Grace Baehren collaborated on a community service project, resulting in the creation of a children’s area on the second floor of the Kapolei Family Court. The project was part of an interdisciplinary course offered by the Child Welfare Clinic at the Richardson School of Law and taught by a team of faculty, including College of Education (COE) Early Childhood Education Instructor Jane Dickson.
“This innovative multidisciplinary course is open to students from education, law, social work, and other related fields,” Dickson said. “A key course component is to work in small student teams to select and develop a project with a community partner site. Grace, Jackie, and Jamie worked with the Zero to Three Court and came up with the idea to create welcoming spaces at court for children and families to play, read, and be together.”
Leonardi and Camit, both students in the COE Department of Curriculum Studies PK–3 Master’s Program, and Baehren, a third-year Law School student, met with Lead Judge Paul Murakami at the beginning of 2016. After discussing the possibility of a more comfortable area for children who attend court, they began focusing on creating a space where children could be entertained and meaningfully interact with their parents and siblings.
“Children often accompany their parents to court hearings and wait hours for the hearings to begin,” Leonardi said. “For a young child, even a short wait without anything developmentally appropriate to do can be very stressful and lead to behavioral meltdowns in the court waiting room.”
The students were able to collect toys and books through donations from the community, including Friends of the Library, Friends of Family Specialty Court, school collection boxes, UH Mānoa Children’s Center, and numerous individual donors. As a result of the overwhelming support, they were able to set up a reading nook in addition to the play area and even invite each child to choose a book and a toy to take home.
Camit added, “These spaces provide a supportive environment for children and families and have been extremely popular thus far. Maintaining them will require ongoing community commitment.”
For donation inquiries, please contact Jacqueline Camit at firstname.lastname@example.org or Faye Kimura at email@example.com.