Maui News

Imua Family Services celebrates 75 years

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  • Imua Family Services was started in 1947 in order to address the debilitating effects of polio. PC: Imua Family Services
  • Camp Imua started in 1976 as a week-long recreational camp for children with special needs, and it continues as such to this day. PC: Imua Family Services
  • Therapeutic services have been an important part of Imua Family Services since its founding. PC: Imua Family Services
  • Imua Family Services relies on its team of providers as well as the support of its clients’ families to help ensure that they reach their fullest potential. PC: Imua Family Services
  • Over 75 years, many aspects of the agency and its services have changed or evolved. Past practices followed a more clinical model, with appointments occurring in office-based therapy rooms directly with children. Today, the services are more family-focused with an emphasis on home-visits and parent coaching. PC: Imua Family Services
  • Comprehensive infant development services began in 1973 in cooperation with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health. PC: Imua Family Services

Seventy-five years ago, a small band of community members on Maui gathered together to create the organization that would eventually become Imua Family Services.

Originally tasked with addressing polio, the agency has redefined and rebranded itself over the course of decades to become what it is today – a nonprofit focused on helping children reach their full potential.

Today, Imua Family Services is the largest provider of Early Intervention services in the State of Hawaiʻi, with an Early Childhood Development Center in Kahului, the new Imua Discovery Garden in Wailuku, and offices in both Lahaina and on Molokaʻi.


In addition to the therapeutic services provided via Early Intervention, the organization provides autism services, preschool education, hearing screenings for children born in the community, recreational programs for school-age children living with special needs, and a dream fulfillment program for children in the midst of crisis.

  • When preschools were forced closed in early 2020 due to the pandemic, Imua Family Services provided free circle-time activities online. Here, preschool director Lyn Constantino is joined by Executive Director Dean Wong and a couple of puppet friends. The hour of stories, activities, and songs was presented daily for Imua Inclusion Preschool students and anyone else who wanted to join in. PC: Imua Family Services
  • Imua Family Services’ therapeutic services ha ve continued over the years. Here, a child works on her fine motor skills during a home visit. PC: Imua Family Services
  • Imua Inclusion Preschool opened alongside Imua’s Early Childhood Development Center in 2016. A second location is planned to open in collaboration with Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena School in Lahaina later this year. PC: Imua Family Services
  • The West Maui Loop has provided the setting for Pedal Imua since 2019. The annual gran fondo supports children in crisis through the Dream Imua program. PC: Imua Family Services
  • Paddle Imua was developed in 2012 as a way for the paddling community to support children with special needs. Proceeds from the annual event help to put on Camp Imua each year. PC: Imua Family Services
  • Imua Family Services finished building its Early Childhood Development Center in Kahului in 2016. PC: Imua Family Services

“While much has changed since the early days when the organization occupied a bungalow behind Kaunoa School, Imua Family Services’ dedication to serving the communities of Maui County has not. And while the techniques and terminology have evolved over the years, many things have come full-circle. The agency sees itself again assisting children and families in the midst of a global pandemic, and as it did early in its existence, Imua Family Services continues to benefit from the generous outpouring of support from the community,” according to an organization announcement.

In 1954, polio (also known as infantile paralysis) had been declared an epidemic on Lānaʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu. The Salk polio vaccine from American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk had been licensed, and clinical trials were commenced in an effort to eradicate the disease. 


That year, the Maui community rallied around a fundraising campaign to raise $10,000, the equivalent of about $100,000 today. At the fire stations in Wailuku, Pāʻia and Lahaina, local firemen stuffed all 11,000 appeal envelopes. Roy H. Savage, then-chairman of the campaign said, “Our firemen are doing the job with great enthusiasm. With community-wide recognition of the fine job our society is doing… I am confident our goal of $10,000 will be reached.”

Then-known as the Maui Unit of the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults, the organization had been founded seven years prior to that fundraising campaign to provide physical therapy to children and adults suffering from the crippling effects of polio. The organization was re-named “Easter Seals” in 1967, became “Imua Rehab” in 1991, and finally landed on “Imua Family Services” in 2003.

As part of their 75th anniversary activities, Imua Family Services is looking to reconnect with those who have past connections with the agency. Individuals with information or a story to share can contact 808-244-7467 or [email protected],,

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