NAPILI - Last summer, 17-year-old Maui Preparatory Academy student Alex Muto attended the Anthony Robbins Foundation Global Youth Leadership Summit (GLYS).
At the annual conference, participants are encouraged to identify personal goals, pledge a commitment to community service and make a difference.
Alex came home inspired; now, he's on a mission to make a better world for tomorrow starting today.
He's founded the Hawaii Leadership Corps (HLC), a force that will join him in 2014 to experience the five-day life-changing program held at the University of California, San Diego - for free.
Alex is steadfast in his values.
"I personally believe knowledge should be free. I don't think knowledge should be withheld, and I want to make sure that this opportunity is given to the community as a whole equally, so that everybody has the chance to be able to go," he told the Lahaina News.
He spread the word across the island at sporting events, canoe regattas, through e-mail blasts, school drama groups and word of mouth.
"It's starting now. We already have 37 kids enrolled, committed to going; and we're working on raising funds. We are looking to give this opportunity to learn these life skills that the Anthony Roberts Foundation teaches," he advised.
Students have enlisted in the HLC from Molokai, Maui Prep, Lahainaluna High School, Seabury Hall, Kihei Charter School and Kamehameha Schools. Some are home-schooled, others are Door of Faith, Kahana youth parishioners, and two are from the Mainland.
Kameryn Pupunu attended the summit with Alex last year and will be joining the HLC in 2014.
"I want to say that GYLS was the absolute best experience I've ever had. This program was amazing... and I can't say that enough. I learned so many things about life and myself," Pupunu said.
Alex's vision is worthy: "to give this opportunity for them to take the power of their life into their hands."
"My mission," he added, "is to be able to give the opportunity and the chance for a lot of students of Maui and also a lot of the other people in Maui to be able to achieve their dreams and overcome a lot of the mental challenges that would stand in their way - like fears, limiting beliefs and other things that would arise in their life that may cut their dreams short."
The objective is empowerment through sharing, collaboration, innovation, leadership, creativity and networking.
"I've had the opportunity to go to a great school. I've had the opportunity to have tutors and to have things and to meet different people and have different coaches; but it doesn't mean anything to me if I have no one to share with.
"If I go the mile, and I go all the way," Alex continued, "that's great for me, but it doesn't give me fulfillment. I want to give the same opportunity to people from the community and for these students to also be able to achieve their dreams. That's my dream, and that's the legacy I want to leave; so that when I go off to college, it will perpetually continue with my brother and with other people in this tradition, and this culture will be created of self-empowered people."
There's a bigger picture, Alex said.
From the initial 37, all empowered with new life mastery skills, the foundation for a "Dreamers Campus" will built on diversity, Alex explained.
"They are all linked by this same basic vision and concept. You have a bunch of different people from different nationalities and different walks of life raising the same plaque," he remarked.
Alex's Mom, Robin Muto, is enthusiastic in her support of her son's vision.
"If one created 37, and those 37 create another 37, and those create more" the concept would grow, she suggested.
"I want to pretty much create a new kind of Silicone Valley on Maui An innovative atmosphere and environment where people are collaborating to make their dreams come true," he said.
Kahu David Kapaku of Kahana Door of Faith Church, where the Muto family gathers for Sunday services, aptly and fondly described how Alex's passion is growing.
"I think it is like the ripple effect. It starts here, and then it gets bigger and bigger. We start at a nucleus, throwing that little stone into the pond, and then that ripple gets bigger - it has to; it is part of the natural order. I think in this sense, Alex is the stone that was thrown into the pond," Kapaku said.
As Alex's vision expands, so do the costs and the shared vision.
"It cost $60,000 to take these 37 kids," Robin calculated.
Investors are contributing from Maui Cardiology, her husband's (Dr. James Moto) practice, Robin said, and from The Chopra Center, Lindamood Bell Learning Processes, Pitzer Built Construction and the Kahana Door of Faith Church.
She has raised, thus far, $42,000.
"We're asking the community to give Alex's dream a chance," Kahu Kapaku observed, "because I believe it is not really about Alex's dream; it's a community of dreamers, and out of the community of dreamers, things happen.
"That is why I think this is important," he continued, "because we're looking at young people as almost the catalyst for what is about to happen. It is in that kind of dreaming, we're giving them a chance.
"To raise $60,000; that's really not the issue. The issue is how far can we push our dreams, and how can we instill dreams in our children... The cost is nothing but what comes out of this. It's going to be just incredible. It's going to go beyond the horizons - it's going to be infinite," Kahu Kapaku predicted.