Our goal is to help build a society that values all people, including older adults living with dementia. We achieve this by building genuine friendships between people living with dementia and volunteers as they engage in art-making.
Opening Minds through Art (OMA) is an award-winning, evidence-based, intergenerational art-making program for people living with dementia. It was developed at Scripps Gerontology Center, an Ohio Center of Excellence at Miami University, in 2007. People living with dementia (artists) are paired with volunteers (students, families, caregivers) who are trained to rely on imagination instead of memory and focus on remaining strengths instead of lost skills. OMA enables people living with dementia to assume new roles as artists and teachers and leave a legacy of beautiful artwork. OMA has been widely replicated.
Age segregation in our society has caused people across generations to see each other as strangers. By connecting people across generations via direct, regular interactions centered around the arts, we build positive attitudes about each other in a joyful way.
“The time was well spent because I got to spend it with you! You would do something for me and I’d do the same for you.” -OMA older adult participant
“My partner has the most giving spirit and is so kind it is hard not to love her. I feel like since I have started this experience at OMA I have been more happy in my day-to-day life because my Fridays are so good.” ~OMA student volunteer
Published studies have documented OMA’s positive impact on both sides.
Compared to other activities, people living with dementia during OMA show:
Students who participated in OMA show:
“I was feeling blue but now I’m feeling better.” -OMA older adult participant
“I am becoming more empathetic and patient with her. I am happy that I can grow this way as a human being.” -OMA student volunteer
Check out the diverse collection of vibrant artwork by people living with dementia in the OMA program. Most of them have not done art since their elementary school days. Many surprised themselves and discovered hidden talents.
“I can’t believe I created that!”
“I love that. The art just comes out of me.”
“I feel like I can do anything!”
Find training opportunities to become a certified OMA Facilitator, or an OMA volunteer, or learn how to infuse the arts into your caregiving activities. Learn how you can bring OMA into your own communities.