Niu Valley Opens Playground after 12 year struggle

At 10:00am this Saturday, June 4, 2016 in the Niu Valley Neighborhood Park at 5510 Kanau Street, the Niu Valley Community Association is holding a grand opening celebration of their newly completed playground, bringing a happy ending to a 12 year bureaucratic struggle with both City and State agencies.

It all started when the 2 year old son of Niu Valley resident Jeannine Johnson was playing ball between the cars on a busy street. Then and there she realized her community lacked a simple playground where children could safely play away from the streets.  Little did Jeannine know she would have to go through 12 years, 113 donors, 4 mayors, 1 governor, 3 council members, 1 legislator, and nearly $80,000 in donations in order to see her vision realized.  “I have been truly honored to work with the residents of Niu Valley and an awesome team of dedicated people to build the playground of our dreams.”, she said.

“This is an amazing story about a tiny community that faced countless bureaucratic, financial, and logistical hurdles while demonstrating an amazing tenacity to see their project completed”, said Peter Kay, Niu Valley Community Association (NVCA) Vice President, “This Saturday is going to be an emotional closure for so many of us”

The playground equipment was paid for by the NVCA after raising approx $80,000 from individual and corporate sponsors, including a $15,000 grant from KaBOOM! and Let’s Play, led by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. Local corporate sponsors include HMSA, Bank of Hawaii Foundation, First Hawaiian Bank Foundation, Pflueger Auto Group, and RevoluSun among others. Mike McFarlane, the playground consultant that helped procure the equipment said, “This playground was much more than a professional endeavor for me, it was a chance to be a part of a true grassroot effort with a great community.”  

The Grand Opening program starts promptly at 10am. All are invited to attend and capture what is shaping up to be an emotionally powerful and culturally rich event in Niu Valley.

About Let’s Play:

Let’s Play is a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families to play nationwide. We believe that the key to healthy living is managing calories in and calories out. Our goal is to help families achieve that balance by providing the tools, places and inspiration to make physical activity a daily priority.

About KaBOOM!

KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. We create great places to play, inspire communities to promote and support play, and work to drive the national discussion about the importance of play in fostering healthy lives and communities.

Help Niu Valley Build a Playground


We, the residents of Niu Valley, are asking you to help us build a small but profound addition to our community life, a neighborhood playground.

60 years in the making

The City and County of Honolulu had long left space for a Niu play area. In sixty years of growth, two tennis courts were built on a hill above the space, but the playground itself never happened. Now an energetic second generation of residents is partnering with the Niu Valley Community Association and with Niu Valley Middle School to achieve that dream.

Help bring neighborhood families together

The twenty-first century has brought changes and development to our neighbor communities, Aina Haina and Hawaii Kai. The changes we propose for our valley line up with the deepest values of this emerging century. We feel it is urgent to enhance family and local ties even as we become global citizens.

More than just a playground

Note the fresh design of our proposed play area! Its contemporary appeal will balance the pull of the indoor computer screen for our keiki by offering an attractive alternative – and outside, trade-wind cooled – arena for their imaginations and their bodies. Niu Valley students will be drawn to it. Local teams who practice on the field will use it. Families with children will stroll over.

We need your support!

Our four years of effort, time, planning, money, and contributions have brought the playground tantalizingly close to reality. (Please see the attached preliminary budget.) We are looking at a June 2012 end date. Our Hawaiian forebears knew the value of community effort. Please join us and bring this canoe ashore!

Pizza Party was fantastic!

Pizza Party card event November 19, 2011


Tonight the Niu Valley Community Association threw a pizza party kickoff celebration for its future playground, which just received a $15,000 grant for winning the most votes in a Facebook contest. The city will install the equipment and prepare the site, but the association needs your help to buy the equipment. Photo courtesy of Stanley Chang.

Hawaii online community unites to win $15,000 for a playground in Niu Valley

We did it!  Here’s an excerpt from our press release below:

East Honolulu social media campaign attracts supporters from around the world to place in the top 5 out of 50 communities around the country

Today, KaBoom!, a non-profit group and Let’s Play, a community sponsorship lead by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, announced that  had won $15,000 in a social media contest, competing against 50 other communities around the country by garnering the top 5 votes on a Facebook page.

“Hawaii has again shown that it has a vibrant social media network that will flex its muscle to get behind a good cause”, said Peter Kay, the Association’s Vice Chair, “This is not the first time that Hawaii’s online community has won an online contest and it’s gratifying that as a community, we can successfully compete at a national level.” is raising $100,000 to purchase playground equipment and is asking the community to visit their website to donate an online contribution. The playground is a public-private partnership, designed by local resident Mike McFarlane of Island Recreation and planned by Matt Graves, a licensed architect with Homeworks and Niu Valley resident.  Homeworks has committed to the site preparation, including grading.  The HMSA Foundation has also provided a $5,000 grant for this project.

According to the Niu Valley Community Association, their neighborhood on O`ahu is the sole remaining community that does not have a playground.  “Since the first residents of the Niu Valley subdivision moved into their new homes in late 1954, Niu Valley families have dreamt of having a playground where their children could enjoy unbridled play close to home,” said Jeannine Johnson, Secretary of the Association.  “It is vital to the healthy development of our children that they get a great start in life, and play is an incredibly important aspect of that.”

Residents have garnered support from the Carlisle Administration, Councilmember Stanley Chang, and Justin Mew , Principal of Niu Valley Middle School which lies adjacent to the park. “I applaud the residents’ efforts and look forward to continue working with them on this project,” said Mayor Carlisle. Stanley Chang said that the playground, “…would complement the park’s existing features and provide activities to further attract children and famlies of the area”.

To find out how you can help Niu Valley, please visit or Facebookcom/NiuValleyPlayground