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Paul Kuehn’s voice was the spark that ignited Hope University now called Hope Center for the Arts. One day during his high school music class, special education music teacher, Doris Walker, was thinking out loud, trying to remember what key a particular song was in. The quiet, shy, blind young man with autism at the back of the classroom spoke up, “that would be the key of ‘G’ Mrs. Walker.” That made Mrs. Walker take notice of the young Paul Kuehn, and she wondered what else he was capable of. She asked him to sing, and the rest is history.

She formed a band called the Hi Hopes around Paul, and they developed a repertoire of songs. When faced with the fact that these talented band members would have nowhere to continue playing once they graduated from high school, she rallied around the families and asked for their support to create what we now know as Hope Center for the Arts. The program began with 8 students, all Hi Hopes members, and met in two rooms in the rear of a strip mall shopping center in Anaheim, California, and in 1979, Hope Center for the Arts became the first organization of its kind to provide arts programming to adults with intellectual disabilities.

Today, Hope Center for the Arts offerings have expanded to include all art forms, and we serve 66 adults with intellectual disabilities. The Hi Hopes continue to perform, and just like any professional band, they have their own trailer with their name on it, and they have recorded countless albums. Hope Center for the Arts students participate in art exhibitions, perform in the hand-bell choir or vocal choir, perform dances and dramas, and learn to play instruments, and more. There are many very talented artists and performers here at Hope Center for the Arts, but opportunities are available to anyone who is interested in or motivated by the arts.

We thank you Paul Kuehn, for your voice, and thank you Doris Walker for your vision.

Doris Walker, Founder

Paul Kuehn with the Hi Hopes Band, center, on the drums.

Our Mission

Through the arts, we transform the lives of adults with intellectual disabilities.
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