ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY students don’t mind getting their hands dirty if it means they can do something to help their community and the environment. Members from the IPA Interact Club and Hui Ho’omau volunteered to help make Genki balls at the Genki Ala Wai Drop event on Saturday, March 19, organized by Genki Ala Wai Project and The Eco Rotary Club of Kakaʻako.
“Everybody complains and jokes that the Ala Wai is dirty and unhealthy, but rarely is action taken to actually do anything about it,” shared Maddie Mizon ‘22, Interact Club President, about why the Club got involved. “Making Genki Balls is a super easy way to help that has been proven to have clear and effective results.“
Genki Ala Wai Project is a non-profit organization that works with The Eco Rotary Club of Kaka’ako to use bioremediation technology to make the Ala Wai Canal clean and safe for recreational use again. The Ala Wai has accumulated mud, organic debris, and various pollutants over the years, forming an anoxic sludge of rotten organic material that releases harmful gasses like methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide as it decomposes.
The project uses Genki balls, also known as bokashi, which are mud balls made from clay soil, rice bran, molasses, water, and Effective Microorganisms solution. The Genki balls are dropped into the canal and embed in the sludge where the live microorganisms digest the organic compounds and oxygenate the sludge, helping to remove pollutants and harmful gasses from the canal.
The IPA students helped to organize and manage the event, which drew in more than 200 volunteers from the community. The IPA Interactors signed in and assisted the participants, directed parking, helped run the purchasing table, assisted with preparing the soil, and then helped break down and clean up at the end of the day.
“It was rewarding to see how many Genki balls we all made – over 4000!” shared Mizon. “At the end of the event we made an assembly line passing the trays of Genki balls to transport them to the truck. It took a good twenty minutes to fill the truck, and it was filled over halfway to the ceiling. We had a great group of volunteers who turned out.”
The IPA Interactors were supported by Katherine Jones, Elementary Sustainability & Innovation Coordinator, and Dora Chilton, Elementary Digital Innovation teacher, who spent the day assisting the students. The students who volunteered were Alessia Loperfido ‘22, Alexis Johnson ‘22, Jade Hieger ‘22, Misaki Kamamoto ‘25, Siitu Pesa ‘24, and Maddie Mizon ‘22.
The IPA Interact Club will be at it again on April 2, when community volunteers will again come out and throw the fermented Genki balls into the Ala Wai canal where they can get to work in cleaning up the waterway.