Maile’s Dream Continues To Raise Awareness and Funds

 “Maile’s Dream”A CELEBRATION OF DIFFERENCES ANNUAL FAIR is a benefit for Easter Seals Hawaii and was held on March 5, 2016.  Today, a check presentation was held at Moanalua High School celebrating the event. $2,180.00 was raised this year for the Easter Seals Hawaii Early Intervention Program.



Fifteen years ago Washington Middle School adopted Maile’s Dream.  Maile was born with a very rare condition called Apert Syndrome, which is characterized by malformation of the skull, mid-face, hands and feet.  Maile has undergone numerous surgeries for her skull, ears, palate, fingers, toes and mid-face.  She’s currently an 8th grader at Kaimuki Christian School.

The objective of this Fair is to raise awareness and encourage acceptance of differences through activities and special entertainment. Maile’s mother, Cindy Ogata said, “Easter Seals’ Early Intervention Program was there to support us with physical, occupational, speech therapy and a gifted teacher to help with cognitive delays…our objective of the event is to raise awareness and encourage acceptance.”


 Now, Maile is a thriving and happy Freshman at Moanalua High School.  Cindy Ogata said that Maile was at first intimidated by starting at such a large school, but her ROTC advisors have also adopted “Maile’s Dream” and have encouraged her growth in High School every step of the way.  Today’s presentation was organized by her ROTC class advisors and she was joined by her classmates.

Proceeds raised through “Maile’s Dream” provides much-needed unrestricted support towards the operations of the Early Intervention Program.

If you would like to also support “Maile’s Dream” you can contact Luke Kusumoto, Sultan Program Manager at  (808) 529-1730 x1002, or email:


Easter Seals Hawaii TV Special on KFVE

Commemorating the 70th anniversary this year, Easter Seals Hawaii marks this special anniversary with a one hour prime time television special airing June 24 at 7:00 pm- 8:00 pm on KFVE.  This very special documentary film directed by award-winning filmmaker, Edgy Lee, highlights the diversity of families and the vast array of needs served by Easter Seals Hawaii over the past 70 years.  Historical highlights and personal reflections span decades. They include stories from community supporters like Don Robbs, Danny Kaleikini, Ed Sultan and others.


Narrated by Danny Kaleikini, the Easter Seals 70th Anniversary TV Special “Easter Seals Hawaii: Serving Hawaii’s Families for 70 Years” is produced by Filmworks Pacific and written by Marc Cohen & Edgy Lee.  The documentary film takes viewers into a unique and different world, a reality that redefines “ohana” to include not only family members and close friends, but the dedicated staff and many volunteers whose every day jobs are to provide life-enhancing services to people with disabilities and special needs so they may  achieve independent fulfilling lives.

Grandpa was pals with Ingram Stainback, who was the governor at the time during World War II.  They would have a cup of coffee every now and then and Governor Stainback would lament that public schools couldn’t handle crippled children, and the crippled children would end up staying in homes and families would take care of them and they never really learned how to interact in the community.

My grandfather would go home later that day and share this with his wife, my grandmother, and they came up with an idea of a school that teaches these children how to interact in society, how to stand up and walk, get them equipment that they might need and they would find braces or crutches for them and other resources.  The idea was that when you graduate from this school, you will be able to go into mainstream public school.  My grandmother became passionate about this and put together a group of people who had a lot of of energy and desire to help the community.  Through their caring and visionary efforts, The Sultan School for Early Intervention which later became Easter Seals Hawaii, was founded.   Ed Sultan III, President and Ceo, Na Hoku, Inc.

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WHAT:    “Easter Seals Hawaii: Serving Hawaii’s Families for 70 Years”
WHEN:    Friday, June 24, 2016; 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
WHERE:  Aired on KFVE

How does Easter Seals Hawaii benefit from the Combined Federal Campaign?




CFC_1Red_RGBThe Combined Federal Campaign promotes and supports philanthropy through a program that encourages all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all. It is a large, annual workplace charity campaign that raises millions of dollars each year.

The Hawaii-Pacific Area Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) benefits charities in the State of Hawaii, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. Charities in this geographic area will receive the pledged money in 2014.



Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) is one of the approved charities for the CFC and relies on your pledge to sustain the organization and continue providing services for children, youth and adults with disabilities or special needs. Many of our programs provide those same services for military families and federal employees as well. Here is a testimony from a military wife whose son with autism was a participant at our ESH Kailua Early Intervention Program.

Around nine months Jeremiah stopped bearing weight on his legs and stopped babbling. Due to his lack of progression, the pediatrician referred our family to Easter Seals Hawaii. We have learned an appreciation for the team approach to finding solutions to our family needs. ESH provided many ideas, suggestions and hands-on solutions that helped Jeremiah work through autism. We have also learned that it’s okay to accept help and ask questions. ESH brought Jeremiah a new level of exposure to the world. By teaching him to walk, improving his ability to feed himself and be more emotionally and verbally expressive, Jeremiah can now connect with his family and is not trapped within himself. Our family would absolutely recommend Easter Seals to other families, not only for the services that they provide but the caring and thoughtful way they deliver those services. The ESH Kailua EI team consistently demonstrates genuine interest in the progress of our son. ESH is a blessing to our family. – Jeremiah’s mother, Ebonie

Every family that walks through our doors has a story. Help us support the families and individuals that we serve by designating Easter Seals Hawaii for the Combined Federal Campaign, which runs from Sept. 15th to Oct. 31st. Our future is in your hands.

A decade dedicated to serving others

by Brandi Salas and Kaydee Johannsen

At Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH), we have many employees, volunteers and donors who have continually served the organization and its participants with disabilities or special needs. Here we would like to highlight one Program Manager, not only because of her enthusiasm, expertise and good reviews from her current and former staff, but for her dedication to serving those in need and being an advocate for Hawaii’s families with keiki with disabilities or special needs.


Dawn Williams, Easter Seals Hawaii East Sultan Early Intervention Program Manager

November would mark a meaningful milestone for local girl and human rights advocate Dawn Williams. It would mean for ten years, she would have served the local organization Easter Seals Hawaii through her many roles as a Social Worker, Care Coordinator, Interim Program Manager and now the official Program Manager for East Sultan Early Intervention.

What would call someone to a profession in the nonprofit sector? One word: passion.

Dawn’s source of passion stems from an experience that changed her life. In 1991, at the age of 26, she was a young mother to her healthy son Jordan and had just received her degree in Psychology. One night, her then husband (Jordan’s father) was involved in a near fatal car accident. He sustained a serious head injury, forcing him to quit his job and seek physical therapy. Dawn was faced with the problem of financially supporting the family and sought out a social worker for advice and resources that would help her with financial planning, her husband’s temporary disability, support groups and affordable daycare for her son while she was at work.

“I was overwhelmed. I met all the types of people I work with now: social workers, speech-language pathologists, etc. They gave me support during this traumatic time and shared resources. Without them to guide me, I’d have been lost,” said Dawn. These individuals were instrumental in establishing stability in her household and eventually empowered her to seek a slightly different path in her career. “I went back to school and got my Master’s Degree in Social Work. I put myself through school because the work and care of these social workers and therapists resonated with me,” she said. Dawn explained that she wanted a hands-on experience with determining what these families need and offering the appropriate resources.

Getting involved in fulfilling the mission

After receiving her Master’s Degree, Dawn was hired as Easter Seals Hawaii’s very first Social Worker/Care Coordinator that was not from the State Department of Health. She accepted the dual position with in 2003. In 2008, she moved up in the organization as the ESH East Sultan EI Program Manager who is also a part of the Policy and Procedures Committee as a Practicum Facilitator.

??????????????????????? The Easter Seals Hawaii East Sultan Early Intervention Program staff

Dawn currently manages a diverse staff of 13 people who are Care Coordinators, Social Workers, administrative staff, Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Teachers. “A lot of the resources I had to look for during that time in my life are all at ESH,” she said. The ESH East Sultan EI Program offers services such as evaluations for children, detecting any developmental delays and even family support and guidance. “We are looking at the QA stuff, evaluations, working with families to find them the resources they need.”

According to Dawn, the way ESH builds a program is like a support and resource center for children with disabilities or special needs. “A lot of my staff has been in early intervention. I’ve loved it the most, you’re working with a team of people.” ESH President and CEO, Christopher Blanchard, commends the program for their success since their official blessing and opening in March of 2013, “This program has great morale, cohesiveness and a great leader. The staff is extremely engaged in everything Easter Seals Hawaii is doing to provide excellent, individualized services to our participants.”

Staying focused, inspired and grateful

Dawn and her son Jordan

Jordan, Dawn’s son, keeps her grounded and encourages her to work hard and help those in need.

If there’s one thing that keeps Dawn inspired and focused on helping others, it’s her pride and joy, her son Jordan, now 26-years-old, who admires her hard work at Easter Seals Hawaii. A large framed photo of him sits proudly on her desk and she will happily show it off to anyone who enters her office. Even when she has a bad day, she uses his photo to reconnect to the mission and refers to one of her favorite inspirational mottos.

“One of the quotes that I always say to myself is ‘Live with an attitude of gratitude.’ Always be grateful for what you have, because I am.”

For those who are interested in a career as a Program Manager at Easter Seals Hawaii, Dawn has some helpful tips:


  • Try to be well-rounded in behavioral, medical fields and environmental issues.
  • The top three things a Program Manager at ESH needs to have are organizational skills and be team oriented and creative in problem solving.
  • Be ready to have a full plate all the time with multiple projects and multiple deadlines.
  • The State requires you to do things for your staff. You regularly deal with contractual requirements and organizational things.

Support ESH Kauai & get a quote for your auto insurance!

Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) in Kauai teamed up with GEICO to raise money for the ESH Kauai Early Intervention program, the Adult Day Health program and service centers this month! GEICO will donate $5 each time someone calls them for a quote for auto insurance. All you have to do is pick up the phone, dial 1-800-947-AUTO, ask for a quote and mention Easter Seals Hawaii! This is for the month of May only. Once GEICO reaches 200 quotes, they will donate $10 per quote. If you’re in Kauai, call now and change a life!

Note: Calls must be coming from Kauai in order to be counted.

Maile’s Dream event raises $4,097 for Easter Seals Hawaii



Maile Ogata presents a check for $4,097 to Easter Seals Hawaii with students from Washington Middle School.

Easter Seals Hawaii received a check for $4,097 from the 9th Annual “Maile’s Dream: A Celebration of Differences” awareness event at Washington Middle School on Monday! The event was created by 13-year-old Maile Ogata, who was born with Apert’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that can lead to facial and limb anomalies. Maile’s dream is to teach the community to accept others who may appear different. The event included games, entertainment, activities, food and auctions. Proceeds raised were donated to Easter Seals Sultan and East Sultan Early Intervention programs.


Maile’s mother, Cindy Ogata said, “Our objective of the event is to raise awareness of difference through activities and special entertainment to encourage acceptance. When Maile came into my life 13 years ago, I would never imagine all the blessings that would come our way over the years. The Sultan Easter Seals Hawaii Early Intervention Program was there to support us with physical, occupational, speech therapy and a gifted teacher to help with cognitive delays.” Maile exited the program ten years ago as well as the special education system by kindergarten. Currently Maile is in the 6th grade at a private school.

A big mahalo goes out to Maile, her family, Washington Middle School teacher Roxanne Kaino (who helped organize student efforts in coordinating the event) and principal Michael Harano.

Easter Seals Hawaii testifies on changes in eligibility for EI services

April 23, 2013

Department of Health (DOH) Proposal

Department of Health, Family Health Services Division, proposed adoption of Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR), Chapter 11-40, Early Intervention Services for Infants and Toddlers.

The proposal changes the definition of a significant delay to “at least one and one-half standard deviations below the mean for the instrument in any area of development”, compared to the current criteria for eligibility of one delay in a developmental area.  This change would leave 40% of Keiki enrolled in ESH EI program ineligible for services.

The Testimony                                

Approximately 12 representatives from Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH), including president and CEO Christopher E. Blanchard, were in attendance at last week’s public hearing to voice their opinions in opposition to the DOH’s proposed change in eligibility. ESH therapists, program managers and staff shared their thoughts and presented facts on how participants and their families would be affected. Two parents of participants also gave testimony and made it clear that the DOH is limiting the resources their children deserve. “If it weren’t for Easter Seals Hawaii, my son would not be able to talk,” said a concerned parent in tears. Many individuals had heartfelt stories to tell as proof of the success of the current Early Intervention services. Program manager and special educator for ESH’s EI program in Kailua, Carrie Pisciotto said, “I was especially touched by the parent testimonies (I cried) and how our staff stepped up to speak from their hearts about our children.” In addition to the verbal testimonies given at the Oahu public hearing, various parents from ESH programs have submitted written testimony opposing the change.

The public hearing also took place in the Big Island, Maui and Kauai, where ESH staff voiced their concerns about their participants and programs will be affected.

The Rolling Effect

The proposed change will result in up to 40% of participants enrolled in ESH programs to lose their eligibility for early intervention services provided by ESH. This will have a rolling effect on ESH, which includes parents will have to pay for services in order for their children to remain at ESH, a reduction in island wide EI resources and staffing.

ESH staff are concerned that not only current participants will be affected, but also parents will lose an important resource that helps them detect and remedy developmental delays during the critical stages of development. ESH Sultan program manager, Luke Kusumoto, said, “If other community resources and programs are not made available to those that don’t qualify anymore, they will fall through the cracks and will likely be identified at a much later time through the DOE system, which is when any developmental or academic issues will be harder and more expensive to address.”

ESH also believes that the Department of Education (DOE) will also experience increased costs as more children will be placed into special education classes and programs. To Kusumoto, this sends an underlying message that our youngest and most vulnerable keiki are not as important. Blanchard added, “Investment in early identification and services today does more than merely save future treatment costs; it demonstrates our commitment to provide our children with the tools they need to build success as they enter public schools. Maintaining the current deviation score for eligibility is essential.”

To recap:

  • Up to 40% of participants in each ESH program will lose eligibility to receive services. They would have to pay thousands of dollars for what was once a free service for their children.
  • Children with developmental delays that do not fall under the criteria will move on without aid in developing their skills.
  • ESH will experience cuts in the number of participants ESH is able to serve, a reduction of staff and eventually programs.
  • The DOE will experience increase costs as current and future participants enter special education programs.
  • Parents lose an important resource that helps detect and remedy developmental delays and their keiki will “fall through the cracks,” which results in identifying such delays years later when therapy may be more expensive.

A not-so-bright future

In today’s economic climate, in which budget cuts are not surprising Kusumoto thinks that the DOH’s efforts to change the cut-off for Hawaii’s keiki are unacceptable. “We’ve experienced many changes due to revisions in the law and budgetary restrictions. This is where we draw the line in the sand and say, ‘Do not cross!’ Statistically, the children who would be carved out of the budget are the same children who would benefit the most from EI services,” he said.

ESH Development Officer in Kauai, Ellen Ching, agrees that the change will have a significant effect on Hawaii’s keiki. “It could affect an entire person’s life. You could have a child with a developmental delay, and with a little bit of speech therapy, he or she can move on to regular schools. If they enter kindergarten without the skills needed, they are placed in special ed and they are automatically labeled. They have to deal with this stigma their entire life,” said Ching. “If we are a state that focuses on education and reforming education, this is the early education that you are talking about. Ages 0-5 are the most critical ages.”

How You Can Help:

  • Write a letter in opposition to the proposed change in eligibility. Written testimonies will be accepted until May 31st. Send to Children with Special Health Needs Branch (HAR 11-140), 741 Sunset Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816.
  • Recently, President Obama recommended $20 million should go to early intervention services. Get informed and sign the national Easter Seals petition to convince Congress to pass it.