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Measuring Hope

By Margaret A. Keough

Colorful artwork decorates a long hallway of windows

Artistic Innovations project The Language of Hope and Courage finds a fellow in science

The Language of Hope and Courage is a series of story installations created by artist Ginna Dowling in collaboration with The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City and its patients, designed to empower these children and bring joy and comfort to them and their families. They will be facilitated to work in interactive and collaborative efforts, to create symbolic representations of themselves, that range in meaning from character traits and tags, emotions, beliefs, aspirations, ideologies, and philosophies, to concepts, tools, and favorite objects. Dowling will then create a life-sized visual story installation with these symbols. (Pictured is a previous, similar project at Oklahoma Contemporary, from process to installation.)

Dowling recently began working with Chan Hellman, Ph.D, the Founding Director of the Hope Research Center and Professor in the Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work in Tulsa, OK. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics for the OU College of Medicine and Department of Health Promotion Sciences for the OU College of Public Health.

Dr. Hellman’s current research focuses on the scientific application of hope theory. In particular, he is interested in the measurable impact of hope, and how hope is associated well-being among those experiencing adversity and stress (e.g., illness, child maltreatment, homeless, domestic violence, substance abuse). Dowling and Dr. Hellman will statistically measure hope in relation to the impact of the Innovations project on patients, their families, and the medical teams working with the patients.

We can’t wait to hear more. The concept of measuring hope through the arts is solidifying the anecdotal evidence we have witnessed countless times in M-AAA’s forty-seven-year history. The arts mean so much and are a true tool to serve those in need.