Statewide spelling bee set for kupuna

Hawaii residents ages 60 years and older will have the opportunity to use their language skills in the inaugural Kupuna Spelling Bee presented by Alaska Airlines this summer. The event is both a fund-raising activity to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association Hawaii and a way for kupuna to sharpen and utilize their cognitive skills in a friendly competition.

Competition will take place in three age categories: 60 to 69 years of age; 70 to 79 years of age; and 80 years of age and above.

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“We encourage senior living facilities, churches, schools, businesses and clubs on all the islands to organize a preliminary contest and help to recruit seniors to participate,” says Justin George, director of development for the Alzheimer’s Association Hawaii.

Preliminary spelling bees will be held in May and June and can follow a variety of formats, from traditional in-person competitions to the use of electronic media such as Zoom. The two top winners in each category from each preliminary spelling bee will advance to compete for prizes at the 2022 statewide Kupuna Spelling Bee on Oahu on July 23.

As the presenting sponsor, Alaska Airlines is providing the Grand Prize winner a pair of roundtrip tickets to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies.

Organizers and prospective participants can register at kupunaspellingbee.com. The registration fee is $10 per person. All Hawaii residents ages 60 years and above are eligible to participate.

The idea for the Kupuna Spelling Bee originated with a 16-year-old Iolani School junior who won his own spelling bee as a fifth grader at Puu Kukui Elementary School on Maui. Riley Regan, along with his parents, Lynn Araki-Regan and Keith Regan, are leading the organizing efforts for the spelling bee.

“Research shows that older adults who view themselves as lifelong learners tend to have sharper cognitive skills. Preparing for a spelling competition can hone those skills,” says Riley Regan.

For sponsorship and prize donation information, contact the Regan family at yoshio.regan@gmail.com.

For information on conducting a preliminary spelling bee or to reach the Alzheimer’s Association, contact Justin George at jmgeorge@alz.org or (808) 518-6654.