Drug overdose is the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. The statistics are especially staggering in St. Louis, which has a drug overdose death rate that is five times the national average. No one is immune to the crisis. The increasing death rates are seen in men and women of all ethnicities and across all age groups, sometimes beginning as early as age 10. Alcohol and drugs have a stronger influence on youth/young adults than any other age group. With so many young people and families in need of help, our society is short on solutions and recovery programs that are effective and can meet the special needs of this population.
In response to this crisis, Kathie Thomas – a local businesswoman and artist with more than 37 years of experience – founded Hope Creates, a nonprofit organization that combines art, occupational therapy principles and entrepreneurial skills to support youth and young adults who are in recovery from addiction. Her personal experience compelled her to take action.
"I am the mother of a young adult addict," Kathie explains. "My artwork became a form of therapy as I faced the daily struggles that come with navigating through the horrors of addiction. My daughter is in recovery. Art helped me heal, and I wanted to find ways to help my daughter and her peers discover that there are other highs in life that are safe, genuine and legitimate."
Hope Creates provides an avenue for self-expression, diverse creative outlets, a sense of community and teamwork, fun, safe risk taking, entrepreneurial training with real-life practice through Community Creation Events, and preparation and participation in Expressive Arts Exhibitions. Hope Creates embodies many critical elements of successful re-engagement in life roles.