By discovering what you’re passionate about and what kind of person you want to be, you can make healthy choices and open the door to new opportunities and a bright future. This website and our associated social media sites were created as part of a campaign by Hina Mauka’s Teen CARE program. The website and campaign is funded by the State of Hawai‘i Department of Health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division through the Federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (“SAPT”) Block Grant funds. Teen CARE provides substance abuse prevention and treatment programs for children and teens throughout O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. Our prevention team includes Debbie Pennuto, Creson Fujii, Nicole Benton-Hayden, Ellen Fooks, Colleen Fox, Michelle Paquin-Lozano, Frank de Gracia, Stephanie Troupe, Anne Giardina, John Sotelo, Anna Marie Elderts, Mary Pacheco, Ipo Kanekoa, Bridgette McInerny, Kiana Kiaaina, Sherry Horita and Marisa Pierre.

Debbie Pennuto

Sewing is my substance! This passion of mine didn’t start until I was an adult, but I do wish I had learned this skill as a teenager.  I love the idea of making something amazing out of a few pieces of material. When I sew, I get lost in my own little world so it is a great stress reliever. One thing about sewing is you don’t have to be creative just be willing to learn and be ok with the mistakes you make because to most people they will only see masterpiece in front of them.

Creson Fujii

Traveling is my substance.  Whether its places I’ve been before or new places to see, traveling is what makes me free.  From picking a place, to organizing what we’ll do and seeing it all come together, it’s an excitement that comes to life.  Being able to explore a new country or state, learning about different cultures, trying new foods and appreciating what is out there.  But the best thing I like about traveling is that I get to do it with my family.

Nicole Benton-Hayden

Hiking is my substance. I love being outside getting fresh air and exercise. Even if a hike is hard, the view is always worth it, especially in Hawai`i. I’m originally from Oregon, so hiking helps me to continue to feel connected to where I came from. When I’m on a hike, I feel like I can breathe and relax, and let go of worries. The only thing on my mind is taking in the view. Hiking is a big part of who I am.

Ellen Fooks

Football is my substance. I love to watch 49er games and have been lucky to go to a few. Watching football is time for me to relax, have fun and get rejuvenated. It is something I enjoy doing with family and friends. Also, I value the effort, preparation, teamwork and goal setting that the teams put into the competition.

Colleen Fox

Reading is my substance! Growing up, reading science fiction was always a great escape to visit places with different cultures, technologies, and environments. Later, my passion for reading novels and books about Japan, Russia, and China helped widen my worldview. When I had the chance to visit some of the places I had read about, I had a rich history to draw upon from the stories I loved. Lately. I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett’s hilarious Discworld books. Reading is my substance because it shaped who I am and opened my eyes to new ideas and different worlds.

Michelle Paquin-Lozano

Traveling is my substance! From planning my trips to seeing new things, I enjoy every step of the way. Traveling has been a large part of my life, as I often saw new places and had the opportunity to learn from other cultures. My favorite part about traveling is that it allows me to look at the world through a different lens. I believe that we can always learn something new, especially from those who have lived a different life. For me, traveling is an opportunity for personal growth as I continue to shift my perspective to gain a better understanding of others and the world we live in. Traveling is my substance because, without it, I would not be who I am today.

Frank de Gracia

Faith, family, friends, music, CrossFit, Spartan races, and being at the beach are my substances of choice. Since a child, I grew up around music, exercise, sports, faith and family. Embracing these have forged me to live with purpose, build intentional relationships, and inspire others to reach their fullest potential.  

Stephanie Troupe

Artistic expression through beautification such as cosmetology is my substance.  I decided to learn a new skill during my free time — nail technology. I quickly fell in love with this substance because it allowed me to be creative, feel good after doing my own nails, and release feelings of stress or sadness. By focusing on what I love to do, I found that problems in my life became smaller than what I perceived them to be. I can also carry out my purpose of helping others by making them feel good and relaxed through beautification. 

Anne Giardina

My substance is being an introvert.  When I’m tired, need encouragement, or notice I’m a little on the crabby side, the best thing for me to do is to go to a relaxing space in nature with a good book, my noise cancelling headphones, my fluffy pup, and a cup of tea.  In that space, I’m able to clear my head, process and let go of stress, and tap into creativity.  My substance is almost like hitting a reset button and never fails to remind me of my priorities and where my hope remains. 


John Sotelo

My substance is the Gift of Life. Being grateful for everyone in my life and understanding that every day is a gift, that’s why it is called the present. We never know what tomorrow will bring, so I like to make the most of every day. I try to live a “Pono” balanced lifestyle of my Mind/ Body and Spirit. I stay active with healthy activities like working out, jumping into the ocean, cleaning my yard, little meditations or just chilling with my ukulele and my o’hana. Every day I try to “Kokua” help someone because it truly makes life more meaningful. I Mahalo Ke Akua for All the Blessings of the Gift of Life which is My Substance.

Anna Marie Elderts

Every animal is my Substance, especially our family’s oldest dog Eleu.  He loves to play with everyone and easily welcomes other dogs in our family.  His zest for life and outpour of happiness is what I look forward to each day.  We’re so close – he knows our body gestures and knows when he’s good and also knows when he’s not so good.   He reminds me to appreciate life and always be happy, however difficult things may be.  Because he understands Hawaiian, we have a special bond when we’re out and about, it’s like having a private conversation.  Everyday is a treasure with Eleu.  Every animal is my Substance because they remind me how precious life is. 

Mary Pacheco

Resourcefulness is my substance! I love making things with my hands, using my imagination, and the right crafting tools to create handmade cards, assorted crafts, and home décor.  When I am creating cards or working on a project, I am in my happy zone and having fun.  This I know for sure, my substance—resourcefulness- reminds me that there are no limits or borders when I use mycreativity and imagination. Creativity increases happiness, confidence, expression of self, improves thinking and problem-solving skills, reduces stress and anxiety, helps discover one’s purpose, and builds connections with other creative individuals.  Creativity is contagious, pass it on!

Kiana Kiaaina

My substance is paddling. It’s a good workout for both my physical and mental health. Whether it’s in an outrigger canoe or on a paddleboard, paddling brings me a sense of peace. Being on the water allows me the clarity that I need to get through life’s motions and reminds me to be grateful. 

Sherry Horita

Working out and running is my substance! Staying active every day is my way of making time for myself. It is also my way of challenging myself to push past any limiting beliefs. I have always loved working out, but never considered myself a runner until I started training for the Kauai half-marathon. In fact, I thought I always hated running, until I pushed my negativity aside. Running is like active meditation for me. I can forget about the stresses of the day and focus on my feet hitting the pavement, and being out in nature, with the ocean crashing nearby and the sunshine warming my soul. 

Marisa Pierre

My substance is traveling! I get excited to travel to both new and familiar places and I always try to indulge in the local cuisine. I like to immerse myself in the culture of wherever I visit, and planning for the trip builds up the excitement to visit somewhere I haven’t before. If I am going somewhere I have been to before, I try to find something new to do to enhance my experience. I always bring souvenirs back to remind me of the good times I had on my trips!

Alexis Alapai

Going to the beach is my substance. I love spending time at the beach. Sometimes I’ll bring a book to read while I’m there. I consider the beach to be my safe place. I feel happy and relaxed when I can feel the sand and hear the waves crashing. I like to admire the scenery and watch the sunset when I get the chance. When I go to the beach, it feels like all my worries float away.