Brooklynn Lumanlan takes a moment away from ukulele practice to show the paper lotus flower that students made in origami class. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Teacher Beau Lumanlan works with Brooklynn Lumanlan at The Learning Center. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Savannah Lumanlan and Jordan Fernandez pose for a photo during a ukulele class at The Learning Center. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Brooklynn, Trevor and teacher Beau Lumanlan work on a new chord. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)
“It’s a gathering place for people of all ages to learn from each other,” said Lani Larrua, who created The Learning Center, a little space full of big ideas in Waikoloa Village. “Our whole mission is to have the older generation share knowledge with the younger,” Larrua said. “Part of people’s value and worth as a senior citizen is to import their knowledge, their values, their journeys and their gifts to others.”
Open since last August, The Learning Center provides a bright and comfortable space for after-school enrichment, community workshops, meetings and more, at reasonable rates. Currently, TLC is offering four classes for children: ukulele, origami, critical thinking aka “dominoes,” and creative sign dance, which teaches American Sign Language with movement and music. Most are $10 per class which includes healthy snacks. Zumba is offered on Friday nights on a donation basis.
Larrua said the idea originated because she and others wanted to help provide activities and instruction that had been cut from the Department of Education budget, such as music and the arts. She hopes to spread the word about TLC programs to encourage more student, and teacher, participation.
“We want to meet community needs,” said Larrua, “and there was no space for meetings. The Community Church has more than 80 meetings per month that are not church-related.” Waikoloa School facilities and the Community Room at the Clubhouse are in high demand and generally booked far in advance, according to Larrua.
“For kids, there’s really nothing in the Village except sports,” she said. “So many parents drive kids out of the Village for extra-curricular activities … And, our community has got a shuttle bus now, so kids can catch the bus at school for free with a student ID, and be dropped off here.” Working parents can pick up children at 4 or 4:30 p.m. when classes end.
In addition to classes and meeting room rentals, this summer TLC added a Summer Enrichment Program to fill in where Summer School left off. With support for Hawaii County Parks and Recreation, students were able to benefit from daily educational activities and weekly field trips.
“Many parents and teachers are aware of the ‘summer slide,’” said Larrua. “Students in the Summer Enrichment Program went back to school with better reading skills, note-taking skills… with more self-confidence and feeling great about themselves.” She and the TLC team are currently planning programs to take place over Fall Break.
“So many parents and kids settle for less,” said Larrua, who is also Pastor of Abundant Life Ministries and has established the 501c3 nonprofit, More than Enough, with a mission to “destroy systemic poverty in our community.” With Abundant Life, More Than Enough and TLC, she and her staff are trying to fulfill spiritual, physical, mental and socio-economic needs across a wider community.
Larrua encourages teachers and anyone with a passion for arts, music, crafts, photography, graphic design and other activities to call and talk about sharing their knowledge at TLC. Volunteers are always welcome, as are monetary contributions, as TLC depends the support of private funders.
“The dream is big enough for you, for everybody, to have a part in it,” said Larrua.
The Learning Center is located on the first floor of Waikoloa Highlands Shopping Center. For more information, please contact Director Beau Lumanlag at, 808-883-9512, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow The Learning Center Waikoloa on Facebook.