In the midst of a pandemic, the nation’s First Spouses for the 50 states can be a force to be reckoned with. Driving that effort will be Hawai‘i’s First Lady, Dawn Amano-Ige, who is serving as chair of the National Governors Association Spouses’ Leadership Committee, a six-person, bipartisan group that plans to highlight issues raised during the fight against COVID-19 connected to children and families.
“We want to bring light to many areas of concern where we as First Spouses can have a positive impact and gain policy support,” said Mrs. Ige. These issues can include hunger, education, child welfare and mental health services, literacy and more. Because of the pandemic, the group is convening virtually more often and expanding its focus. “Part of my goal as chair is to develop more engagement and discuss a wider range of issues,” she explained. “The value of our Spouses’ Leadership Group is sharing ideas and seeing what’s going on in other states. We want to develop a system of support that can benefit all of us.”
Asked what should be the message to young people in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Mrs. Ige replied: “Violence should never be tolerated in resolving any issue. It doesn’t help our country, state or community. Violence causes divisiveness and costs lives. Level-headed leadership with the focus on unifying our country is critical.”
Help for keiki and kūpuna: Preschools and memory care
A “Memory Care Roadmap” for family caregivers and anyone who wants to improve brain health is available through the Hawai‘i Alzheimer’s Disease Supportive Services Program and the Executive Office on Aging. The helpful guide provides resources, practical advice and ways to distinguish between normal aging and serious memory problems. It also provides tips for people of any age who want to reduce the risk of developing dementia, such as food recommendations and “10 Ways to Love Your Brain.” For a copy of the guide and other resources, go to https://www.hawaiiadrc.org/site/459/hadssp.aspx.
Preschool Open Doors (POD) Program – This Department of Human Services program provides subsidies to low- and moderate-income families to help pay preschool tuition at any of 409 state-licensed preschools. The program is accepting applications through March 31, 2021 for children who were born between Aug. 1, 2016 and July 31, 2017 and will be eligible to enter kindergarten in the 2022-2023 school year. Interested families can call (808) 791-2130 on O‘ahu or toll-free from the neighbor islands at (800) 746-5620.