HOPE! Drama Troupe is a group of 20 middle school and high school youth whose mission is to end child abuse and neglect and strengthen families in Polk County.
HOPE! is administered by Des Moines Young Artists' Theatre with assistance from the Restoring HOPE Committee. Each year, HOPE! Drama Troupe members use an original script to educate area youth about child abuse and the impact it has on children and families.
Their 25-minute performance defines the types of abuse, demonstrates the consequences of abuse and identifies how to get help. The troupe tackles tough issues that are difficult for youth to talk about and portrays ways to discuss problems and get help.
There is a documented link between childhood abuse and long-term health effects, including visual, learning and hearing deficits, increased illness, emotional disturbances, delayed language development, low self-esteem and aggressive tendencies. According to Prevent Child Abuse America, the most costly long-term effects are those associated with responding to adults who, because of earlier abuse, are involved in criminal activity. Their report puts those costs at over $5 billion annually in the United States.
Polk County statistics show that child abuse is as prevalent in in Polk County as in other parts of the country. Educating young people about the consequences of child abuse and advising young victims to seek help is vital to the prevention of child abuse as well as important for early intervention for juvenile delinquency. Since it began in 1993, HOPE! Drama Troupe has always been well respected in local schools for its ability to communicate with teens about physical abuse, neglect, drug and alcohol abuse, date rape, teen pregnancy and the many other problems associated with child abuse.
They spend one day each month (November-May) with their professional directors and a counselor, touring central Iowa and performing for various middle schools, high schools, community groups, churches and more.