Spark your Keiki’s Creative Spirit with Arts at the Y

kids taking an ukulele class

by Lisa Ontai

The arts, in any form, provide our keiki with a fun and creative outlet for self-expression and opportunities to build their confidence, self-esteem, and critical thinking.

For decades, the YMCA of Honolulu has provided generations of keiki with the opportunity to develop and hone their creative and artistic skills ranging from Hawaiian hula and ʻukulele classes to martial arts and ceramics.

Hawaiian Language, Hula, and ʻUkulele

Since 1968, Kumu Hula Carolee Nishi and her dedicated ohana of volunteers have taught Hawaiian culture through music, dance, and language to thousands of our Island’s youth through their Hula Hui O Kapunahala halau located at the Nuʻuanu YMCA.

Students are encouraged to set and reach goals beyond their halau – and are taught respect, humility, confidence, and “Haʻawi” – how to give without expectation for something in return – how always to give the best of oneself. Classes are open to keiki through kūpuna with classes for toddlers ages 3-5; keiki 6-12, ʻōpio and makua 14-49, and kūpuna 50 and over.

Keiki, Wahine, and Kūpuna hula classes are also offered at the Mililani Y, and ʻukulele classes at the Leeward and Windward Y.


Ballet classes for keiki 8 years and older are offered at the Kaimukī-Waialae Y. New students are welcome to meet with the Y’s ballet instructor and participate in a complimentary lesson before registering.

New Performing and Visual Art Classes at Nuʻuanu

Keiki and adult clay hand-building classes are offered on Saturdays at the Nu’uanu Y. Students learn “pinch, coil, and slab” clay-building techniques to create unique sculptures.

Keiki and Teen percussion ensemble classes are offered on Saturdays at the Nu’uanu Y. Students learn how to play xylophones, metallophones, drums, and other percussion instruments, along with songs and dances from around the world.

Martial Arts

The first Karate demonstration in the U.S. was at the Nuʻuanu Y in 1927. Classes for Kempo Jiu-Jitsu, a form of Karate, began in 1941. And in 1959, the Nu’uanu Y became the first YMCA in America to offer Karate and Aikido classes which still continue today.

Martial Arts classes for youth and adults are available in the following locations:

Nuʻuanu Y: Aikido training is to harmonize with Universal Energy “ki” flow and improve one’s character, self-defense, coordination of mind and body, discipline, awareness and concentration, confidence, and respect.

Kaimukī-Waialae Y: Judo emphasizes fun and total physical activity for top conditioning. The discipline provides means for learning and improving self-discipline, character, self-defense, and physical endurance.

Mililani and Nuʻuanu Y: Karate increases confidence and discipline, improves concentration, builds good sportsmanship and character, and improves coordination, reflexes, and overall health and fitness.

All classes are open to the public. Y Family members can save up to 20% off classes. Financial assistance is also available thanks to generous donors. Visit us online for details and to register or call the YMCA Service Center at 808-678-4296.

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