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  • Steffani Fletcher

Aetna Voices of Health - Hope at Hand

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

Atena Voices of Health update: Hope at Hand received 17,373 votes!

Who We Are

Poetry [poh-i-tree] Noun - the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative or elevated thoughts - literary work in metrical form; verse." (reference 9/12/17:

Hope At Hand is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides art and poetry sessions to vulnerable and at-risk youth populations. Using creativity, language, art and therapeutic approaches, we facilitate healing and personal growth for children and adolescents.

However minor, most people have a relationship with poetry in some way. We venture to guess that everyone can cite at least one simple poem from memory. "Sticks and stones will break my bones?" "Roses are red?" Poetry is everywhere from childhood memories to song lyrics to advertising jingles. Hope at Hand begins each session with this familiar connection to words and rhythm to encourage youth to consider choice and change.

"Hope at Hand showed me a new way of life. They showed me that despite my circumstances, I can find positivity, even in a jail cell. I had so much hate inside of me. Hope became real to me. A few months after the classes, I decided to make a change." Alyssa Beck, formerly incarcerated juvenile

With poetry as the foundation, youth learn strategies that will support them as they overcome barriers to successful participation in society. Hope at Hand's programming blends poetry therapy training, Montessori methods, educational best practices, and mental health wellness.

What We Do

For some, opening up and connecting with others can seem impossible, even unimaginable.

Hope at Hand programming provides a safe environment for youth to:

  • Explore feelings through poetry

  • Write poetry and create art

  • Pursue creative writing and journaling

  • Reflect on love and lifeIncrease self-awareness and awareness of others

  • Process pain and release transgressions

  • Trust others in a supportive community

  • Experience joy and success

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the following about the importance of providing positive experience for venerable youth: "Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. Much of the foundations research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs are linked to: risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential, and early death. As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes. CDC promotes lifelong health and well-being, assuring safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children...that will help children reach their full potential." (reference 9/12/

Many of the youth we encounter have little or no involvement in ongoing positive experiences. Hope at Hand teaches participants to internalize wellness strategies that can be used independently in times of high stress. Hope at Hand helps youth in North Florida reach their full potential. We let them know that they are smart and worthy. Hope at Hand works diligently to challenge ACEs through our poetry programming.

What's it like to be sober? Forever chasing happiness? Radiant in the fact You can be your own person be happy on your own the freedom to fly at will not just when your addiction says you can

-adolescent female with H@H Gateway, Steps to Recovery

Our Story

Founded in 2009 by Steffani Fletcher, a veteran educator, Hope at Hand served 110 individuals through group lessons with only one facilitator. In 2016, services were provided for over 4,500 struggling youth populations by a staff of 14 elementary school educators and mental health counselors.

Kudeja Kelly was part of Hope at Hand's very first poetry session in 2013. She has a unique firsthand account of Hope at Hand's mission to provide poetry, positivity, and empowerment by guiding individuals in realizing the importance of choice and change. Kudeja said the following about how classes at the Pretrial Detention Facility: "Hope at Hand is awesome. They came to the jail house. They reached out and shook my hand. Most people who visit act as if the inmates are inhuman, like animals. They were different. They took a huge risk reaching out to the juveniles. And I'm glad they did. It changed my life. It gave me hope."

Poetry written by participants in Hope at Hand sessions:

Hope has no negativity. She has no boundaries. Hope has a better outlook For the future. She doesn't judge others For their downfalls. When people stumble And fall She gives them Courage and motivation To move forward And find peace.

-incarcerated female juvenile with H@H Pretrial Detention Facility


I run out of real reasons

And places to hide

My heart began aching There was no one at my side I whisper

Please help me

I can't go on I am taking my life back

and setting it free

-adolescent female in recovery with H@H Gateway Steps to Recovery


Look around See yourself. Crawled in a box. Suddenly understood. Take the box away and start to cry.

-adolescent female with H@H John E. Ford PreK-8

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