The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa’s Campus Center will soon become the site of renewal and self discovery with the second annual “SPARK! Self-care and Well-being Conference.” 

Set for Feb. 22, the event is hosted by the Hawai'i Positive Engagement Project (H-PEP), which, according to their official Instagram page, focuses on “strengths-based, good-vibes, heart-centered professional development & workshops.” H-PEP is a featured project of the Center on Disability Studies and the College of Education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. 

According to H-PEP’s official website, registration for SPARK! will begin at 8:30 a.m., with the event kicking off at 9 a.m., featuring a general session and a keynote speech by Maya Soetoro-Ng, an associate specialist at UHM’s Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution. 

From there, attendees will participate in three breakout sessions, all of which focus on various subjects that participants can choose to learn about. Breakout sessions include presenters from in and out-of-state, featuring speakers from places like Chicago, Seattle and Portland. Descriptions of the sessions and their proctors can be found on the H-PEP website

SPARK! will close with personal action planning before ending at 5 p.m. 

UH Mānoa assistant specialist faculty member Naomi Rombaoa Tanaka is the creative mind behind H-PEP and SPARK!.

“My role is-- SPARK! Coordinator? Lead SPARKler? I don't have an official title, but I am doing everything from organizing to marketing to planning sessions to presenting to evaluation,” Tanaka said in an email interview. 

According to Tanaka, SPARK! offers attendees not only a respite from their busy schedules, but also equips them with skill sets to encourage a sense of better well-being and self-awareness. 

“SPARK! is a day for reflection and renewal! It is an opportunity for people to create space for their personal well-being,” Tanaka said. “We get so busy and bogged down with everyday things and sometimes we forget to recharge our own batteries, SPARK! is an experience that is hard to describe, but once you attend you'll feel sparked too.” 

Inspiration for SPARK! came with the desire to do something positive for the community. 

“For the past several years, we focused on working with local educators and parents, and as our funding was coming to a close last year, we wanted to do one last big event for the community. I had always dreamed of a well-being conference for Hawai'i,” Tanaka said. “The event came together in a month's time last year (June 2019) and was such a big success! All our presenters volunteered their time and energy to make it happen. SPARK! is a true testament of what can be done through the power of connection and community.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased on Eventbrite

Regular tickets are available with and without a t-shirt, costing $190 and $170 respectively. However, Tanaka mentions that adult students, parents of children 12 years and younger, preschool to high school educators  and healthcare professionals have a 50% discount. 

“Proceeds are tax deductible and will go to furthering well-being programming for Hawai'i,” Tanaka said. “We also have a limited amount of full scholarships to attend for early educators and parents of keiki 5 and younger.”

For those interested, inquiries can be sent to hpep@hawaii.edu.

Ticket sales end on Feb. 10. 

Tanaka hopes that SPARK! positively impacts its attendees. 

“I hope attendees are re-invigorated! I hope that they feel empowered, engage in deep reflection, celebrate what's already going right in their lives, and meet others to connect with,” Tanaka said. “It's going to be a really fun day and I hope that everyone feels SPARKED!”

For more information, interested community members can go to H-PEP’s website. Tanaka also invites those interested to follow H-PEP on Instagram and Facebook, and extends a thank you to the Centers on Disability Studies for co-sponsoring the conference. 

Opinions Editor, Co-managing Editor

Kailanianna is Ka Leo O Hawai'i's Opinions Editor. She was born and raised on O'ahu, and is of Palauan, Chamorro and Filipino descent. Kailanianna is in her senior year, majoring in Anthropology and pursuing certificates in Korean and Ethnic Studies.