Baha'i News -- Maintaining hope important for Oklahoma

Maintaining hope important for Oklahoma

By Carla Hinton
The Oklahoman
David Hooten says hope is a "big word" these days, though it only has four letters.

Hooten, a Contact Crisis Help Line board member, said Americans were encouraged to keep their hope fresh and alive in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In the year following the tragedy, the buoyant emotion has kept afloat those seeking guidance and direction for their life. That is why, Hooten said, he created the name, A Festival of Hope, for Contact's upcoming quartet of activities that encourage people to pay heed to their mental health.

"Sept. 11 shook a lot of people's faith, their beliefs in God or whatever makes them stronger. If we lose faith -- our hope -- then evil and terrorism have won," said Hooten, a festival co-chairman.

Hopeful activities
A Festival of Hope Recognition Dinner Dance, celebrating progress in mental health and honoring outstanding leaders in physical, mental and spiritual wellness, will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Oklahoma City Marriott, 3233 Northwest Expressway. A reception will begin at 6 p.m.

A Festival of Hope Continuing Education Seminar, "Translating Hope Into Wellness," will include training for professionals on the interrelationships between emotions and health Friday at the Marriott. Guest speaker will be Dr. Nick Hall, internationally recognized psychoneuroimmunologist with The Institute for Health and Human Performance. Seminar cost, which includes lunch, is $65.

A Festival of Hope Walk, a 11/4-mile walk celebrating good mental health, will be 8:45 a.m. Sept. 14 at Oklahoma City Community College, 7777 S May, parking lots D and E, entry 6. Registration will be from 8 to 8:45 a.m.

A Festival of Hope Wellness Fair, set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 14, will include information on how to maintain good mental health through practices and resources that support physical, mental and spiritual wellness. The free fair will be at Oklahoma City Community College, parking lots D and E, entry 6, Conference Room and Dining Area. To register for Friday's education seminar, call 573-8226. For more information about other A Festival of Hope events, call Contact Crisis Help Line at 840-9396.

"I choose hope. We must have hope."

Through the upcoming festival, Contact will focus on the important relationship of body, mind and spirit and help participants gain a better understanding about the essentials to wellness, the keys to a stable, fulfilling and productive life, and how to deal with life's challenges.

That A Festival of Hope begins just one day after the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorism events is no accident.

Festival organizers said through the terrorist attacks, which linked Oklahoma City with New York City and Washington, D.C., many Oklahomans may have felt again the trauma of the 1995 Murrah Building bombing.

Contact helped people deal with feelings of vulnerability, confusion and anger, and helped empower callers to deal with these emotions.

The effects of stress, anxiety and depression are real, festival organizers said.

One in five families is touched in some way by severe mental illness, with about 200,000 people in the Oklahoma City metro area experiencing a mental disorder during a year's time.

Contact received more than 37,700 calls in 2001, from people needing emotional support, referral information and crisis intervention.

Dr. W.D. "Dub" Rogers, a counselor with Family Christian Counseling in Oklahoma City, helped Contact connect faith-based groups for the festival.

He said it is important that spiritual wellness is addressed through A Festival of Hope activities.

In fact, several churches and faith-based organizations will participate in A Festival of Hope Wellness Fair set for Sept. 14 at Oklahoma City Community College.

Faith-based groups participating in the fair include Crossings Community Church; Scope Ministries; and Spiritual Assembly of Bahai's of Oklahoma City, among others.

"When I think of mental health, people have always tried to separate psychology and spirituality and science and spirituality," Rogers said.

"But a lot of research is being done showing there is a connection between health and faith and I think we are spiritual beings," he said.

Rogers said the wellness fair is an opportunity for churches and other faith-based groups to tell the public what they have to offer.

"Churches are interested in people's well-being," he said.

Rogers said many reforms have started in the church, and hospitals have sprung from denominational undertakings to name a few of the ways the faith community has reached out over the years to help people.

Churches help offer hope -- "where there's life, there's hope," he said.

"Sometimes, people can get so discouraged that they don't believe that and the tragedy, many times, is that people are in pain in any area and do not realize that there are programs designed to help them."

"It's just a matter of making that connection."

©Copyright 2002, The Oklahoman

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