HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Genki Ala Wai Project hopes to make the Ala Wai Canal swimmable by 2028, but how does one make a Genki ball?

First Hawaiian Bank held a community event where their employees made 1,155 balls on Saturday, Aug. 20

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Genki balls are made up of four key ingredients:

  • Sifted soil
  • Rice bran
  • Molasses
  • Effective Microorganism (EM) fluid

“Plus, maybe a little bit of water and a lot of love and energy,” said Maryann Kobayashi, Genki Ala Wai Project education coordinator.

“You will try to compact them as hard as you can. You’re trying to make rocks, so you’re squeezing all that air out.”

Maryann Kobayashi, Genki Ala Wai Project education coordinator

The balls then need to dry out for about two weeks, so the ones thrown into the Ala Wai on Saturday were actually made at the beginning of August.

“The kids, they’re the ones that really get into the making of the balls, getting their hands dirty,” Kobayashi said. “They’re just so exhilarated and they are just throwing the balls out with so much emotion and fun and it’s awesome to see them.”

The president of First Hawaiian Bank said he certainly noticed a change when he took a deep breath through his nose while standing next to the Ala Wai on Saturday.

Yes! Yes, that’s right! I hadn’t thought about that until you mentioned it, but the smell is gone, and that’s, for those of us who remember it before, it’s a big difference.”

Bob Harrison, President, CEO and Chairman of First Hawaiian Bank

“Many, many years ago, I used to paddle on the Ala Wai and it’s great to see it coming back,” Harrison said. “And, what a wonderful non-profit to make that happen.”

The employees were also happy to be together; Many of them had not seen each other since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I’ve never met them in person! So there’s a lot of people I’m meeting for the very first time and it’s kind of a full-circle moment, I work with these people every day and it’s just great to see them in person,” said Carissa Chang, First Hawaiian Bank service specialist.

The Genki Ala Wai Project is always looking for new volunteers — especially keiki. The technical coordinator said motivating them is what the project is all about.

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“They’re the future leaders, they’re future generations and get them inspired that, you know, just follow your dreams and you can take it to a higher level that we never imagined,” said Hiromichi Nago.