The arts-based recovery program Hands Healing HeArts has rebranded to Yes Arts with the mission of "mobilizing the power of community and the arts to disrupt the cycle of addiction."

The rebrand reflects the organization’s growth from a single program partnering with Franklin County Drug Court to several programs that address recovery, prevention and resilience at every stage of the addiction cycle, officials said in a news release.

In February 2015, artist Doris Thurber’s daughter Maya died of a heroin/fentanyl overdose. A year and a half later, convinced that tackling the massive opioid crisis would require all the skills and engagement her community could muster, Thurber joined fellow artists Joanna Hay and Jennifer Zingg to launch Hands Healing HeArts, a weekly program within Franklin County Drug Court that guides participants through writing, visual art, theater and other creative processes to help give expression to their feelings, experiences and struggles. 

“I am thrilled that Hands Healing HeArts has discovered the need to branch out to include youth and the broader community in our expanding program,” Thurber said. “We like the name Yes Arts because it reframes the issue of drug use. Instead of just telling kids to hold back all the time or exist in a negative space where they need to avoid ‘this’ or ‘that,’ it gives kids a positive approach and more agency in deciding what to do with their time.”

Yes Arts’ partnership with drug court continues as the Yes Arts Recovery program while the Yes Arts Youth and Yes Arts Community programs round out the nonprofit’s comprehensive approach to disrupting the cycle of addiction.

Yes Arts Youth began in partnership with local schools and social service organizations in 2018 to provide out-of-school arts programming to promote healthy development and alternatives to substance use. Yes Arts Community uses artistic performances, exhibits and media to increase community empathy, dialogue and engagement about addiction, recovery and prevention. 

“We are fortunate to live in a city that is unusually rich in artistic assets,” said Yes Arts Executive Director Amelia Berry. “Yes Arts harnesses these resources to help tackle one of our most pressing public health concerns. We believe that using the arts to approach issues of addiction in a positive, solutions-oriented way holds powerful potential for individuals and our community. It is exciting, cutting-edge work.” 

As part of Yes Arts’ expanded work, the organization is partnering with the Franklin County Health Department and the Franklin County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP) to launch Just Say Yes, a collaborative public health initiative focused on preventing youth substance use in Franklin County. Just Say Yes kicks off with a two-day summit Sept. 26-27, including a public event at the Grand Theatre at 7 p.m. on Sept. 26.

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