Panama City, Florida – On February 1st fifteen hundred bay county 5th-grade students created Stars of HOPE for there community. Painting colorful stars and messages of healing. That will be seen across the community.
“After the hurricane, we knew that we wanted to do something healing that incorporated art. We reached out to the Florida Art Therapy Association and they connected us to Stars of HOPE®. Around the same time, the school system contacted us wanting to participate in the program. We were excited to have the opportunity to expand the program to include children across the county because they were just as impacted by the storm and its aftermath as the adults,” –Jennifer Jones, Executive Director of Bay Arts Alliance
Boxes of HOPE were also delivered from people around the country who wanted to send messages of hope to Hurricane Michael survivors—including employees of Guardian Life Insurance, PayneWest Insurance, McDonald Smith, Riverstone, Randi Oliva, and David Potter.
Painting Stars of HOPE to comfort other disaster survivors gave participants a break from worrying about everything that still has to be done, and let them focus on helping others. The act of doing something for others—of paying it forward—gave them a sense of empowerment and hope for their own lives as well.
The students even learned a few new skills, while reflecting on the healing of the community and their chance to help others through art.
On Friday, I worked with 145 5th grade students in painting Stars of Hope. It was incredible to see how resilient the kids were, and I was amazed to see the support the teachers provided despite losing some of their homes. The teacher I spent the day working with shared that she had been housing one of her students since he lost his home in the hurricane. On Saturday, I had the incredible opportunity to hang Stars of Hope in the Panama City community. Hanging the stars offered us the opportunity to display the community’s hope, resilience, and bravery. –Emi
Lllig– FSU Art Therapy Grad Student
Both the public program and school paints were made possible by the generosity of sponsors who supplied funds to purchase stars, paint, brushes and more. Thank you to Bay Arts Alliance, New York Says Thank You Foundation, American Art Therapy Association, Florida Art Therapy Association, Colart
Thank you to members of the Florida Art Therapy Association, Florida State University Art Therapy Graduate Program and local Music Therapist, A big thank you to Bonnie Burk who delivered stars to the Hot Yoga studio in Tallahassee in addition to assisting along with her husband in Panama City and Groesbeck Rebuilds America.
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