The Discovery Garden Origin Story

The Origin

In 2017, the Staff and Board of Directors of Imua Family Services developed a five-year plan to grow programs that would serve more families and encompass a more fluid experience. Included in the plan was the goal of acquiring an inclusive campus that could provide the community with improved and more accessible services along with educational and recreational activities. The vision was to create a campus that would help increase functional, social, and emotional skills for those who access services and offer more naturalistic learning environments attuned to Imua’s model of inclusion.

The Dream

Imua’s dream for the 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. Our “Nature Play Spaces” encompass Imua Inclusion Preschool and outdoor classroom, an open-air children’s amphitheater, family picnic spaces, and gardens where kids can connect, play, and learn outdoors. 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. These unique grounds will promote acceptance and compassion – both important values for children to embrace.

The Location

Imua Discovery Garden is located in the Wailuku Historic District on land formerly known as the Yokouchi Family Estate. The property boasts beautiful grounds with traditional 1938 architecture designed by Charles William Dickey, one of Hawaii’s premiere 20th century architects. No single person has more central a place in Hawaii’s architectural history than C.W. Dickey (1871-1942). Born of a kamaʻaina family (his maternal grandfather was the Reverend William P. Alexander, missionary), he grew up on Maui, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1859, and practiced architecture in Honolulu from 1895 to 1904. “It is fitting that the legacy of this property would now become a place of discovery — to serve and touch the lives of children and families here for decades to come,” says Dean Wong, Imua Family Executive Director.

Read: A Brief History and Timeline of the Imua Discovery Garden Property by Hokuao Pellegrino