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Hawai'i LEND Scavenger Hunt

Briefly describe the activity and its purpose.

The purpose of the activity is to have Trainees familiarize themselves with the navigational challenges of statutorily funded programs and agencies that serve children with special health care needs. Trainees prepare by completing readings about key pieces of federal legislation (Title V of the Social Security Act, DD Act, IDEA, etc.) that created and maintain these various systems. Trainees will have already been assigned into interdisciplinary teams that must travel together as a “family”. A member from each team is given a disability and the team must accommodate their member’s need every 20 minutes, and in the spirit of operating like a family, the team cannot be separated, they must stay together as a group. In addition, a different member of the team is asked to dress in professional business attire while the rest of the team maintains a casual/play dress code.

Prior to receiving their “clues” each team must complete two tasks; 1) an activity on People First Language, 2) an activity to validate their knowledge of the assigned readings. Once a team completes these two tasks, they are then given their Scavenger Hunt Guide of clues. The Scavenger Hunt guide is purposely sequenced to not be in geographic order. Trainee teams self determine their approach to the activity. They may review each of the required stops and then develop a plan of action, or they may approach the stops sequentially as they are presented in the guide. A faculty observer is assigned to each group and is not allowed to share information, confirm or deny their strategy and conclusions.

The Scavenger Hunt Guide presents a series of scenarios that require information from a program or agency to address the need of a family. It takes them to a variety of state agencies, program offices, and a few organizations. As part of their quest, Trainees may complete a variety of tasks taking photographs of “handicaps” in the community, and posting their adventure to social media via hashtags. Past Scavenger Hunts have included conducting man on the street interviews along the way.

The kinds of information the Scavenger Hunt requires the trainees to receive include application forms and process flows, policies, contact information of key community advocates, program eligibility criteria, fee schedules for medical equipment or interpreter services for families from the outer pacific islands who travel to Hawaiʻi to see specialists.

Upon completion of the Scavenger Hunt, trainees will meet at a final location and will draw their path and process. The activity is debriefed as a group. Faculty will share their observations of the team. Trainees are then rewarded with an ice cold snack.

This activity is scheduled at the beginning of the Trainee year, typically as the second class, when they are still new to the program and their cohort.

What are the expected learning outcomes for trainees?


  • Learn about key pieces of federal legislation that created and maintain the various systems that serve people with disabilities and their families. 
  • Become familiar with the agencies, offices, organizations, etc. that support people with disabilities and their families in Hawai’i. 
  • Begin to understand the challenges that people with disabilities and their families, especially those with language or other access barriers, often face as they navigate the complex web of service systems. 
  • Apply leadership, team work, and negotiation skills amidst a small group of individuals without an established hierarchy and who are also unfamiliar with each other.


Briefly describe the positive impacts this activity has had on trainees.

The activity quickly gives Trainees an opportunity to experience what families go through; the frustration of incomplete information, the inability to move freely and quickly because they have their family members in tow, finding and having to pay for parking, being dressed inappropriately, etc. It also provides them an opportunity to meet key MCH and MCH related leaders and advocates in the community to begin to establish their professional network. It serves as a preview and an anchor for discussions related to these particular programs, services, and policies later on in the year. The Scavenger Hunt also serves as an icebreaker for the teams allowing them to get to know each other on a more intimate basis as they spend the day collaborating and moving together.

Briefly describe any lessons learned or challenges associated with implementing this activity.

One of the best lessons learned about the activity is we cannot begin to contrive some of the turns the activity takes. Trainees will end up in the wrong location, they will ask for help from people who honestly give them information that may be outdated or incorrect, they will lock keys in cars, or not have adequate identification on their body to access secured buildings. They may run into the Governor exiting a building, deal with security, or receive a hostile reception.

As it relates to administering the activity, it requires a level communication between the facilitator, the sites, and the faculty observer to inform the sites of the progress of the teams making it to their location. After doing this activity for so many years, the sites look forward to the onslaught of trainees and have become quite concerned when all of the groups do not reach their destination.

By observing the Trainees in their interactions with each other, the general public, and officials, Faculty are able to gain insight into the Trainees and their leadership and communication styles. Those trainees who are competitive are easily identifiable. The personality traits that emerge are used for future planning purposes for subsequent team and role assignments.

An unavoidable challenge is when the Trainees end up at a site that is not part of the Scavenger Hunt. A team maybe convinced itʻs the correct site and may share that information with other teams. This may cause some discomfort for the site as they may receive several unexpected visitors in a day. On this rare occurance, the Facilitator will make a follow up call with the site and explain the activity and offer apologies.

The first few years of the Scavenger Hunt, Trainees had to use phone books as smart phones were not available. With the advent of smart phones and the relative ease of accessing information, it has not impacted the activity at all. Not all of the information on the internet is current which creates itʻs own uncontrived complications to the Trainee navigation.

Because Trainees are primarily traveling by personal car as a team, the program has had to address liability issues. Faculty in our program are restrained from driving Trainees, however Trainees are allowed to drive Faculty members.

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