January 3, 2019  | By Stephanie Wray, ATR-P, LMHC Intern


Every year at the annual conference of the American Art Therapy Association, attendees are invited to create artwork in the open studio — a wonderful way to step back and process during the intensive days of learning.  At the 2018 conference held in Miami, attendees were invited to join Stars of HOPE, USA in painting 12-inch wooden stars with a message of hope.  The Stars of Hope team planned to use the 200 completed stars to show support and pay-it-forward to a community involved in a natural or man-made disaster where hope and healing are needed most.

Unfortunately, a shooting occurred at a Tallahassee yoga studio on November 2nd during the conference. This occurrence weighed heavy on the hearts of the participants at conference, and the Stars of HOPE team recognized that some of the stars painted over those 4 days could be used to support the Tallahassee community.

The stars painted during the conference were sent to a local Stars of HOPE volunteer who used them to transform the shopping plaza where the shooting took place.

The owner of Hot Yoga Tallahassee was touched by the stars.  She posted a photo on Instagram and asked, “Please tell me, how did these get here? Hand painted beautiful and I’m crying.” When Stars of HOPE reached out and shared the story, she said, “This is far from a small gesture…. this is a GIGANTIC gesture and it literally transformed the energy and how I feel about being there right now. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

We know that love is stronger than hate and the members of AATA, volunteers, and Stars of HOPE made sure the owner of the studio was not alone and that the community was supported from afar by people that care.