Will Smith Foundation pledges $2.2 Million toward creation of Imua Discovery Garden
Dedicated to Will Naylor Smith’s generosity and love of life, the foundation founded in his memory launches Imua Family Services’ capital campaign to create an inspired community space for outdoor, nature-based learning on Maui.
With a momentous launching gift of $2.2 million from the Will Smith Foundation, Imua Family Services moves over a third of their way toward completing their capital campaign for Imua Discovery Garden. Announced publicly on July 3rd, the “A Million Dreams Campaign” aims to raise $5.5 million to create a haven for outdoor learning and exploration on the former Yokouchi Family Estate in Wailuku. The Will Smith Foundation, founded by Will’s mother Susan Moulton following his tragic loss in a 2007 traffic accident in west Maui, is committed to providing positive life experiences for children through partnerships with other nonprofit organizations focused on children and making their lives better.
Moulton, a former board member and current honorary board member at Imua Family Services, states “The Imua Discovery Garden and the intention and mission of Imua Family Services radiate the essence of my son and his spirit of compassion and generosity to children. This will be a place to honor his legacy for generations to come. As Will’s mother and the founder of The Will Smith Foundation, it is my honor to launch the campaign for The Will Smith, Imua Discovery Garden with a contribution of $2.2 million, which will solidify the timely success of their 18-month capital campaign.”
onse to the astonishing news of such a generous gift, Executive Director Dean Wong declares “The foresight shown by Susan and The Will Smith Foundation will have a deep impact on the children of Maui. In light of today’s pandemic, there will come a time when our community will need to address the harm that it has wreaked – not only by the disease itself, but by the effects caused our need to shelter our keiki at home, removing them from peer socialization opportunities that they would have had through school, activities, and family gatherings. These considerations, plus our children’s exposure to our own anxiety and that of their teachers and caregivers, will require a massive amount of reconnection and healing once we start to come out of this. As we move forward, we look to and thank leaders such as Susan who are stepping up their efforts on behalf of children despite the difficult circumstances surrounding us at this time.”
Imua’s dream for the community-based Imua Discovery Garden is to inspire children while they learn and grow and to equip parents and teachers with a safe naturalistic environment where learners of all abilities can develop at their own pace. Its “Nature Play Spaces” will encompass family picnic spaces, gardens for children to connect and learn outdoors, plus a second Imua Inclusion Preschool site with an open-air outdoor classroom. Mud tables, interactive walls, activity panels, and sensory gardens will be designed so children with disabilities can play alongside their able-bodied friends and siblings. The unique grounds will promote acceptance and compassion – both important values for children to embrace.
Imua Family Services began serving children and families in Maui County in 1947. Currently, it is located at its Early Childhood Development Center in Kahului, which the agency built in 2015. The facility boasts specialized therapy rooms, conference and meeting spaces, the agency’s offices, and is home to Imua Inclusion Preschool. Imua also rents an office on Molokai at the Molokai Community Health Center.