Joyce Cooper continues her passion for art in the art room at the Hancock County Senior Citizens Center in Bay St. Louis.

When Joyce Cooper of Diamondhead heard about the Hancock County Youth Court's project, Halls of Hope, she said she knew it was a "wonderful idea."

This year, Hancock County Judge Trent Favre, in collaboration with CASA of Hancock County, established the program to "enhance the courtroom aesthetic utilizing the talents of our very own artists in Hancock County."

Each volunteer artist was supplied with a canvas and asked to create a work of art utilizing the word "hope."

As of now, about 25 messages of hope line the walls of the youth court building.

Cooper said she has been an avid painter since the 1980s and continues pursuing her passion at the Hancock County Senior Citizens Center on Bookter Street in Bay St. Louis.

She said she found out from center director Arlene Johnson about the project, and thus far, is the only senior from the center to participate in Halls of Hope.

"It took a little time to think about it," she said. "Hope kept running through my mind. Then the idea of the Statue of Liberty came to me. That is a symbol of hope for people from far away places."

She said she spoke about it with her sons, who agreed that it was a good idea.

Cooper's painting also depicts the American flag, bald eagles, and doves of hope.

She also painted a lighthouse with the light shining out to the sea.

"I loved doing it," Cooper said. "It gave me a good feeling. It will give them hope that they can get past this."

Favre said that the goal of the project was to "enhance the courtroom aesthetic to make children and parents feel more welcome in the courtroom."

"We are working very hard to establish a trauma-informed court which focuses on restoring lives and families," he said. "The artwork communicates a message of hope to all who enter."

Favre said he is open to more artist participation, but is in need of more donated panels.

Learn more about Halls of Hope by contacting youth court staff at 228-467-7945. For more information about programs at the senior center, which is located at 601 Bookter St. in Bay St. Louis, contact staff at 228-467-9292.

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