Loretta Luke ’64 Yajima
2016 Charles S. Judd Jr. ’38 Humanitarian Awardee
By Erin Teruya ’93 Kinney
Under the nurturing hand of Loretta Luke ’64 Yajima, the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center has grown to serve not only Hawai‘i’s families, but has become a model for the global community.
After a career in teaching, Yajima opened Hawai‘i’s first children’s museum in 1990 at the Dole Cannery, and led its relocation to a larger, permanent facility in Kaka‘ako in 1996.
In 2011, Chinese businessman and philanthropist Mr. Niu Gensheng visited the Hawai‘i museum to learn more about how children’s museums teach through play. He expressed his desire to bring that American concept to children in China.
Inspired by Yajima and his visit, he appointed her senior advisor to the newly developed Children’s Museum Research Center in Beijing.
In June 2015, the Lao Niu Children’s Discovery Center opened in Beijing and a second museum is scheduled to open in Hohhot in 2017.
“Loretta has been a true inspiration and the driving force behind the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center,” said Michael Pietsch ’64, who nominated Yajima for the Amstrong award. “She has been the one constant throughout its amazing almost 30-year history.”