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Art Therapy Students Volunteer in Bay County to Aide Hurricane Michael Survivors

Published January 29, 2019

Stars of HOPE sent to Panama City from around the country

On February 1st and 2nd, students from the Florida State University Art Therapy Program will be collaborating with Bay Arts Alliance in Bay County to aide in a therapeutic arts program, Stars of HOPE®.  On February 1, almost 1,500 5th grade students at 19 schools across the county will participate in the program, and on February 2, the public will have a chance to paint their own stars at the Panama City Center for the Arts from 10am–2pm.

Because so many stars will be painted in Bay County, the stars painted by the 5th grade classes will be hung in some of the hardest hit parts of the county to help bring hope to our residents as we continue to rebuild. Stars painted at the public paint at the Center for the Arts will be sent on to future disaster sites.

“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,” said Jennifer Jones, Executive Director of Bay Arts Alliance.

Stars of HOPE® is a therapeutic arts program that was created after 9/11 by the New York Says Thank You Foundation. Participants paint 12” x 12” wooden stars with messages of hope that they then send on to disaster sites in need of those messages. According to the Stars of HOPE® program, the Bay County school and public paints will be the largest group of people to ever participate in the program at one event.

We’re also very lucky that you have one of the best art therapy programs in the country right next door in Tallahassee. We’ve been working with the art therapy students at FSU, and many of them are coming over to help out at the schools and at the Center for the Arts.

-Stephanie Wray, Stars of HOPE® Program Manager

On February 3, the Stars of HOPE® program and Bay Arts Alliance will hang the stars painted by the 5th graders in public places in various areas of the county.

While the county will soon see stars pop up around their neighborhoods, residents can also join in to create stars for others in need. The Panama City Center for the Arts is hosting a public Stars of HOPE® program on February 2, where anyone in community can come in to paint their own stars featuring messages of hope. The stars painted during this public program won’t stay in the county, but instead they will be sent on to other disaster sites to bring hope to those going through similar experiences.

About Stars of HOPE®

Stars of HOPE® USA is the world’s largest and fastest growing healing arts program. They are a unique disaster response and community arts program empowering people to transform communities impacted by natural and human-caused disasters by creating and displaying colorful art and messages of hope and healing. In 2007, Stars of HOPE®started with two families – the Parness family in New York who wanted to pay-it-forward for the love New York City received from people all around the world following 9/11. And the Vincent family from Groesbeck, Texas who wanted to pay-it-forward for the support they received when New York Says Thank You volunteers rebuilt their home following a deadly tornado. Today, with the help of over 90,000 volunteers, Stars of HOPE have transformed 220 communities in 26 countries impacted by disaster and tragedy with messages of hope, healing and resilience.