Cheyla Defries and her firefighter buddy, Erianna Garces, pretend to call everyone to invite them to the K.I.D.S. Carnival. Courtesy photo

Cheyla Defries and her firefighter buddy, Erianna Garces

Q&A with Phyllis Kunimura

Each year, on the same day as the Veteran’s Day parade in Kapa`a, Kaua`i Independent Daycare Services, Inc. (K.I.D.S.), also in Kapa`a, holds its annual fundraising carnival. forkauaionline asked its founder and head, Phyllis Kunimura, to answer a few questions about the carnival, now in its 24th year, the same age as the school.

FK              Is there an entrance fee for this carnival?

PK             No entrance fee.  We suggest that people find a parking place early in Kapa`a town to browse and pick up some yummy baked goods to munch on while watching the parade. Afterwards, they can come back for more snacks of cotton candy, shave ice and popcorn. We do a laulau sale as well, with presale tickets. The children love the carnival games and face painting on our playground that faces the ocean and is right on the bike path in Kapa`a. It’s really a fun family day in Kapa`a, with a parade, carnival games, good food as well as crafters and silent auction, tag sale and a bouncer for the keiki.

FK       About how many persons attend this event each year?

PK       We have quite an attendance and it grows every year! Each alumnae class comes back to visit whenever they can. The parents of the 80 children in attendance and our staff of 13 run the booths and do the set up/clean up so that’s already about 250 people right there, plus we have crafter tables, usually 12.

The carnival goers and Silent Auction participants are many, usually between 300-400 people from all over the community from the Veteran’s Day Parade crowd and the people in the parade to the visitors all along the Coconut Coast who have been notified in advance about the carnival on the beach in Kapaa` by fliers and posters at the various concierges, to the alumnae families and future families to KIDS School.  It’s a crowd!

FK              Traditionally, how much do you raise in one of these carnivals? Does it seem to increase annually, stay the same, or drop?

PK              It pretty much stays the same. There were a couple of past years that we all felt the economy drop a bit; however, we have wonderful community supporters each year that we so appreciate.

FK              Is the revenue from this carnival earmarked for a particular purpose?

PK              We traditionally earmark the revenue for enrichment classes such as gymnastics, bus rental for field trips and other needs that occur during the year.  It is really our only means of income besides the tuitions we collect every month. We do our best to keep tuitions low for our working families and stay open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday year-round to accommodate parents’ work schedules.

FK              Please tell more about the crafts.

PK              This part of the carnival is always popular, the child gets to sit and create a craft with materials prepared in advance by the staff and assisted by staff and parents at the craft booth. It’s the experience of creating something unique that the children love.  Parents love it, too, as their children are occupied in a fun learning experience. This year, we have rainbow and bead bracelets, ornaments and the ever popular Spin Art and kites. There is a  nominal cost of between $1 and $2 per craft per child.

FK              Is there a particularly tempting grand auction prize?

PK              Super exciting every year is the two-night stay at the Royal Hawaiian Beach Hotel in Waikiki, the pink lady on the beach. This is always a treat for the highest bidder, and we consider it to be our signature item.  Kyo-ya Company, Ltd. has been so generous each year to support the Tony Kunimura Silent Auction with this grand donation.

Other yearly loyal supporters offer neat items that include the following: sports packages from Kauai golf courses, boat, helicopter, kayak and tubing rides, quilts, dinners, also tangible gift items such as baskets of goodies, soaps and shampoos and artwork from Kaua`i artists. We usually receive 100 donations for our silent auction and have a following of bidders that come every year — it’s really a fun time for everyone.

FK              What kinds of designs do artists paint on keiki faces?

PK              The children can pick from many ideas —flowers, hearts, tigers, monster trucks, butterflies, baseballs, footballs — their imagination and the face painters’ abilities plus a board with choices determines it.

FK              What are some of the games that keiki can ply at the carnival?

PK              We have games for all ages of keiki. We have basket ball hoops, clown toss, fishpond, wooden ball in the bamboo cup, ring the floating duck. These are basic carnival games that test skill and have an element of chance, except fish pond, where every player is a winner. The child holds the bamboo fishing pole and throws it over the curtain and soon, there is a slight tug and they have “caught a prize” on their line!

FK              What is the single best thing you can say about the K.I.D.S Carnival?

PK              The children love the fact that their preschool gets turned into a real live carnival! They come back to school the following week day and the carnival is gone!  Amazing. Meanwhile, it is such a great opportunity to have parents work together with teachers and staff to support their child’s school in a community setting.

FK              What is the single best thing you can say about K.I.D.S.?

PK              It’s a unique preschool curriculum based on activities that stimulate both the left and right sides of the brain.  The activities and programs offer education, physical development, leadership skills, and social/emotional processes. Knowing that 90 percent of development takes place from ages zero to five years old, KIDS School’s goal is to prepare children for successful transition to kindergarten. And it gives parents information and positive experiences, such as working at the fundraiser, attending parenting classes, working in the Learning Center and more. They can support their children through the grades as a family.

FK              What is one thing you can say about how you feel each day that you enter K.I.D.S.?

PK              Joyful, happy and positive. It’s a great environment for children and adults.

FK              How do you know you are making a difference with K.I.D.S School?

PK              We have been around long enough that parents who attended KIDS as preschoolers are enrolling their children here. Also, high schooler students who attended KIDS come back and volunteer in the school because they loved KIDS so much that they want to give back. Seeing parents out in the community and hearing how well their children are doing in kindergarten, third grade, middle school, high school, etc. is exciting. Many of the high school valedictorians have come from KIDS and others have received scholarships. Parents share that the parenting classes taught them so much information that they still use as the valuable lessons as their children continue to grow up. One parent noticed that many of the volunteer parents at the elementary school level are parents whose children attended KIDS School.

FK              Any closing remark you’d like to make?

PK              All the answers and information about KIDS curriculum, programs, philosophy and history can be found in the book Beyond the Sandbox, Preschool Matters-Closing the Gap Between Research and Practice. It was published by Pono Press in 2010.  From zero to five years of age in children is where the foundation for developing a secure and successful adult stems from. Ninety percent of brain development takes place at that age. Preschool Matters, Children Matter, You Matter!

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