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Baseball to fishponds: 5 community stories from 2022 you might have missed

LLWS Parade Baseball 2022 little league baseball
Gene J. Puskar/AP
West Region Champion Little League team from Honolulu, Hawaiʻi participates in the opening ceremony of the 2022 Little League World Series baseball tournament in South Williamsport, Pa., Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Heading into the new year, we're highlighting some of our favorite stories from 2022 about changemakers, Little League champions, inclusive canoe paddlers and more. Here are five stories that you might have missed.

How Little League's history in Hawaiʻi influences Honolulu's team ahead of championship game | by Sabrina Bodon

Honolulu little league 82922
Office of Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi
Honolulu Little League returns to Hawaiʻi after winning the 2022 Little League World Series in Pennsylvania. (Aug. 29, 2022)

Earlier this year, the Honolulu team took home the Little League World Series title, but pitching and high run counts aren't the only impressive feats of Hawaiʻi team members. Their character on and off the field has caught the attention of others.

Hawaiʻi teams have been voted the Jack Losch Little League Baseball World Series Team Sportsmanship Award in two of the last four appearances. The state also took home three overall championships in 2005, 2008 and 2018.

Recent history has proven Hawaiʻi's competitiveness, but the story of Little League in the islands predates statehood.

“Hawaiʻi was one of the first areas outside the contiguous, then the 48 states, back in the early 1950s to put programs on the field,” Little League historian Lance Van Auken said from his Florida home. “Hawaiʻi’s roots in Little League go very deep."

Read and listen to this Little League story (and more) from HPR's Sabrina Bodon on Aug. 26, 2022.

Honolulu's acting planning department director says staffing is top priority | by Casey Harlow

Dawn Takeuchi Apuna.jpg
City and County of Honolulu

As deputy director of the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, Dawn Takeuchi Apuna oversaw day-to-day personnel operations, while also addressing oversized residential homes, known as "monster homes," and short-term vacation rentals.

Fewer than two years into her position, she became the department's acting director after Dean Uchida suddenly resigned. She took over a department that has been beleaguered with inefficiencies and corruption convictions.

"We were on this 20-month journey together, trying to come up with ideas to correct some of the problems," she said in September. "So when he said that he was resigning, it was shocking that my partner would no longer be there to keep moving forward."

Fast forward to December and Takeuchi Apuna is set to become the permanent director, per Mayor Rick Blangiardi's appointment.

Speaking to HPR's Casey Harlow in September, Takeuchi Apuna shared what she hopes to accomplish as the new director.

Community leaders work to expand opportunities for inclusive paddling and ocean sports | by Jayna Omaye

Makapo Aquatics
The Makapo Aquatics team in Hawaiʻi for a race earlier this month. The group is mostly made up of paddlers who are blind.

There is a growing movement to expand opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision to participate in outrigger canoe paddling and other ocean sports.

A California-based team, Makapo Aquatics, is mostly made up of paddlers who are blind. Equipped with a remote-controlled steering system for their solo paddlers, they used it for the first time at the Queen Liliʻuokalani Canoe Race in Kona in September.

In Hawaiʻi, the nonprofit AccesSurf offers canoe paddling and other ocean sports for people with disabilities.

“Working with the AccesSurfers, as we call them, it’s almost full circle,” said Ann Yoshida, AccesSurf’s training and innovation specialist who was paralyzed from the chest down after a car crash in 2000. “I was able to feel the empowerment that happens when you get back into a place that you're comfortable with.”

Read and listen to this story from Hawaiʻi Public Radio's Jayna Omaye.

Red light camera initiative moves forward despite backlash | by Zoe Dym

Red Light Camera traffic intersection
Mel Evans/AP
FILE - A red light photo enforcement sign is seen below a red light camera Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in Lawrence Township, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Ten red light cameras will be installed at various Honolulu intersections by March 2023 as a part of the state Department of Transportation's red light safety program.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, cameras have reduced fatal red-light crashes by 21% in the U.S.

"Well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking the odds that they’re going to get caught because it increases their thought that they might get caught if they run a red light," said Jessica Cicchino, vice president of research at IIHS.

But not everyone is a fan of red light cameras. Read and listen to this story from HPR's Zoe Dym.

New Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation program to offer free stewardship training to Hawaiian groups | by Jayna Omaye

Pacific American Foundation.JPG
Jayna Omaye
Herb Lee Jr. is the president and CEO of the Pacific American Foundation. The nonprofit takes care of the Waikalua Loko fish pond in Kāneʻohe.

A new program will help teach Native Hawaiian organizations how to embrace traditions while expanding their reach.

Herb Lee Jr. grew up just up the street from the Waikalua Loko fishpond in Kāneʻohe. But it wasn’t until his 40s that he started to connect with the land.

Now, he's the president and CEO of the Pacific American Foundation, a nonprofit that cares for and preserves the 400-year-old fishpond while offering ʻāina-based education to thousands of students.

He and his team were part of a group of Native Hawaiian organizations selected for the Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation’s inaugural stewardship training cohort.

Read and listen to this story from HPR's reporter Jayna Omaye.

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