In March 2017, EWAlution 96706 coalition, based in Honolulu County, launched a social media campaign with youth from a local high school. Modeled after the popular “Humans of New York” social media campaign, the purpose was to share stories about people, places and practices in the Ewa area, instilling a sense of belonging to encourage people to make positive and healthier life choices.
“The recent data we collected from individuals who live, work, and play in the Ewa/Ewa Beach community shared that they wanted a strong connection to the community,” said Shalei Aoki, Coalition Coordinator. “We want people from Ewa/Ewa Beach to learn, and know that majority of the youth choose a drug-free lifestyle, and activities the youth are doing to stay drug-free. We also want to promote a healthier lifestyle through the positive messages being shared to have the community feel connected, have a sense of pride, stewardship, and motivate positive involvement.”
EWAlution 96706 (E9) is a community coalition with the mission to reduce and prevent substance abuse in the Ewa/Ewa Beach community through community collaboration and positive action. EWAlution 96706 consist of the area defined by the zip code, 96706, which includes Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ewa Villages, Ocean Pointe, Iroquois Point, and West Loch Estates in Honolulu County. The total population of the area is 62,730 people, according to the 2010 U.S census Demographic Profile Data.
The people, places, and practices that are shared through the project capture the heart and soul
of the community and inspires the collaboration, compassion, and aloha spirit of EWAlution 96706. Since the launch, the coalition has shared 63 stories and gained 1,200 likes on Facebook and 150 followers on Instagram. Community members have been sharing positive and encouraging comments, and sharing with their networks. Some posts even went viral – reaching 25,986 people.
“Once we got stories about the youth, we thought how valuable it would be to talk with kupuna (elders) who were born and raised in the Ewa/Ewa Beach community,” said Aoki. “We wanted to hear stories about the history of Ewa/Ewa Beach, what life was like ‘back in the day,’ and how past generations shaped the Ewa/Ewa Beach we know today. So, we started with the kupuna who we were comfortable talking to: coalition partners, members, friends, and relatives. From then on, we kept being referred to other people in the community and new story ideas emerged. We found that a lot of the Ewa/Ewa Beach community members who read the stories felt inspired to share their own story because of the sense of connection they had with the post, or wanted to express their community pride. It’s just been an amazing ripple effect of people wanting to share, make connections, learn, and love our beautiful Ewa/Ewa Beach community we are all a part of.”