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Hawaiʻi Public Health Initiative Launches the Safe Route for Keiki Program

Communities with access to safe and equitable places to walk, bike, and roll have better health outcomes. HIPHI is deepening our community-based, built environment strategies through funding from the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health. Jess Thompson was recently hired as the first statewide Safe, Accessible, and Inclusive Mobility (SAIM) Program Manager.

As part of this initiative, we are looking for three school communities throughout Hawaiʻi to engage in community-based planning to create better spaces for students to walk, bike, and roll to school.

One of the Keaukaha quick build murals/traffic calming strategies.

What types of programs and projects are possible?

The movement for community-designed walking, rolling, and biking programs and projects are endless. The recently completed Keaukaha quick build is one example of what is possible, and one we hope will inspire other school communities. A quick build project is a project that takes less than a year to plan, implement, and uses flexible installation materials such as paint and moveable barriers to inspire long-term change in our neighborhoods and streets. These community-designed, easy-to-install road safety solutions are relatively “quick” and easy to “build” so that everyone who uses the spaces can be involved in the process.

Keaukaha Elementary students painting one of the quick build road murals.

The Keaukaha quick build project created a continuous walking and biking path around the piko of the community. The community designed a contiguous walking, rolling, and biking path around the school campus, fields, and other community offices by reorganizing parking, designing and painting and community-created road murals, and installing “delineators” or flexible poles to distinguish the pathway from parking. What made this project so special is that it is located in one of Hawaiʻiʻs oldest Hawaiʻian Homelands–Keaukaha and included the voices and perspectives of keiki as young as 3 and some of the most honored kupuna in the community. Additionally, the three major road art installations were designed and painted by a daughter of Keaukaha – Kawehi Mahi-Roberts. Kawehi is a talented artist and has a passion for her community and helping others create safe, art-inspired spaces for people to walk, roll, and bike.

Click here to see a beautiful video documenting the Keaukaha quick build, as told by community members.

The Keaukaha Quick Build project was funded in part through a grant from the Department of Health and the Ulupono Initiative. Many stakeholders convened to make this community-designed and implemented project so successful: Keaukaha Elementary School, Keaukaha Community Association, HIPHI, Blue Zones, PATH, Ulupono Initiative, the County of Hawaii and SSFM. In fact, this project was so inspiring that it received the prestigious Community-Based Planning Award from the American Planning Associationʻs (APA) Hawaiʻi Chapter. 

Safe Routes for Keiki is looking for 3 other school communities to plan for their own community-designed solutions that increase safe walking, rolling, and biking in their neighborhoods. Other options, besides quick builds, include bike and pedestrian education classes, traffic gardens, walking or bicycling buses, or a solution unique to a particular community!

Want to bring Safe Routes for Keiki to your community?

We are looking for 3 school communities to help us launch the 2023 Safe Routes for Keiki planning teams. The school communities must be SNAP eligible, have an active community-based organization (parent group such as PTA, community organization, or community based affiliation such as YWCA–can be formal or informal) in support of the project, and a school community ready to begin Safe Routes for Keiki hui in Spring of 2023. If you would like to learn more about how to connect with Safe Routes for Keiki, please contact HIPHI’s SAIM Program Manager, Jess Thompson at

Jessica Thompson

Jessica Thompson

Program Manager: Safe, Accessible and Inclusive Mobility (SAIM)
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