Photo caption: Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work MSW Graduates
Native Hawaiians consistently have the lowest life expectancy of Hawai‘i’s largest groups, and experience complex and multiple health disparities. Health disparities for Native Hawaiians are often linked to factors including age, gender, socioeconomic status, educational attainment, and geography. The social challenges include poverty, homelessness, lack of access to healthcare, and lower socioeconomic status.
In order to address health and social disparities within the Native Hawaiian community, the HMSA Foundation awarded the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at UH $73,500 to support Ke A‘o Mau , an immersion-enhanced educational program that focuses on Native Hawaiians. Ke A‘o Mau creates opportunities for social work students to work with community organizations that serve Native Hawaiian clients and focuses on social justice and health equity. The vision of Ke A‘o Mau is to build an interdisciplinary base for the program with multiple UH Mānoa units in potential partnerships.
Amy Asselbaye, HMSAF executive director said, “With a new focus on health equity, the HMSA Foundation Board made an investment in the School of Social Work’s Ke A‘o Mau program. We believe Social Workers are an integral factor in reinforcing the inherent strengths of Hawai‘i’s native people so we can all have a foundation of wellbeing.”
Dean Noreen Mokuau, who leads the MBT SSW states, “While Hawai‘i enjoys the status of being one of the healthiest states in the U.S., the host culture, Native Hawaiians, continue to experience significant health and social disparities. We believe this program will educate social workers and other professionals and build the workforce to address such disparities."