Saturday December 11, 2021

Hope For the Season and Hope for Always

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services shares on their website that they are Oklahoma’s first Hope-centered agency. Kudos to them for embracing the science of hope and working with their clients (our fellow citizens) to empower and support them with the necessary tools to change their lives for the better.

Children in our state have some of the highest rates of trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACES) in the country. The reality is that these children also have parents who likely have suffered from trauma and adverse childhood experiences, making the work of DHS even more important.

Oklahoma is so fortunate to have one of the leading researchers of the science of hope and author of the book Hope Rising residing and working in our state. Dr. Chan Hellman is a professor at the University of Oklahoma and has done extensive work in the subject, defining hope as science that is not only measurable, but also teachable and learnable.

Dr. Hellman and co-author Casey Gwinn share that hope is not just an emotion. It is the belief that the future will be better than today and we all have the power to make it so. Hope is more than wishful thinking. It is a practiced approach to the world around us that, when combined with the necessary tools, can change the trajectory of lives.

Hope is critically important to the success of our children. Oklahoma City Public Schools is the state’s largest school district  and surveys students on a variety of mental health related topics on a regular cycle. Asking about student’s level of hope is one of the survey questions and our students have woefully low hope scores. Many programs have been implemented by the school district to address these issues and the OKCPS Compact’s EmbraceOKC is the community-led effort with the same goal.

In addition to addressing mental health needs, all the support provided by our community plays a large role in raising the level of hope for our children. Something as simple as providing a coat for a student in need or supporting a teacher’s classroom makes a huge difference in helping our students feel hopeful. To learn more about ways to provide support, check out

During this season of hope and joy, it’s good to remember we are all responsible for providing hope for our children and helping them create hope-filled lives. If not us, then whom?

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