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, Alex Hudson, Creson Fujii, Nicole Benton-Hayden, Ellen Fooks, Colleen Fox, Michelle Paquin-Lozano,  Kiana Frias, Courtney Richards, Anne Giardina, John Sotelo, Anna Marie Elderts, Mary Pacheco, Ipo Kanekoa and Cassidy LaSalle.

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.

Alex Hudson

My substance is my dog, Kelso. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing together: hiking, swimming, even body boarding, it’s all so much more fun because of him. He is a chaotic goofball that I can barely keep up with, but he always makes me laugh. He is my substance because the time I spend with him is so important to me, whether we’re cuddling on the couch or wrestling over his favorite toy. He is my best friend and fur-baby, and at the end of the day, hanging out with him is what I always look forward to.

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.


Kiana Frias

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. 


Courtney Richards

Being in the ocean or in the mountains is my substance. I find it balances me, challenges me and rejuvenates me. I find that both are much life; the mountains have peaks and valleys; the peaks are where we take in all rewards from our hard work, the valleys we rest, reset and prepare for the next challenge.  The ocean can be chaotic and dark at times, and also calm and refreshing. Connecting with nature can be a good reminder of all the little things to be thankful for.

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!


Ipo Kanekoa

Yoga is my substance! I was introduced to yoga in a high school PE class and fell in love with it. Doing yoga regularly helps me to feel grounded, centered, and strong. Yoga has helped me with self-esteem, better regulate my emotions, and have better insight in myself. There is nothing better after a long, stressful day than getting on my mat, slowing down, and connecting to myself. For me, allowing time for yoga is the ultimate self-love. There is power in slowing down and simply breathing. ~everything you need is already inside of you~ 

Cassidy LaSalle

Hiking is my substance. Traveling and outdoor adventures help me recharge and feel energized. I began hiking more frequently in the last few years, and it has allowed me to feel more grounded, be mindful, and practice self-care. I love that when I am hiking, I am actively working towards a goal and can see my achievement once I reach the top. It is so rewarding to see my accomplishment while looking at the view from the top of a mountain. I love bringing my dog, Koa, and other people with me on hikes because I am able to be fully focused on the present moment. Starting my day having already accomplished something difficult brings me positivity and self-confidence throughout the rest of my day.