Dr. Elizabeth Lokon, Founder of “Opening Minds Through Art,” an abstract art program designed to help people with dementia/Alzheimers, co-facilitated the “OMA” facilitator certification training with Art for the Journey at Saint Mary’s Woods Retirement Community on March 7th and 8th, 2019.
“OMA” was developed by the Scripps Gerontology Center/Miami University/OH by Dr. Lokon, who goes by “Like” (pronounced “Lee-kah”) in 2010. OMA is a person-centered, intergenerational abstract art program providing compelling and positive results with empirical data that has been proven to create well-being in elders with dementia, as well as to create social change in the perception of elders by young volunteers with the additional goal to prevent “ageism”.
Last week, 21 individuals became certified to facilitate OMA in locations ranging from New York to North Carolina and as far away as Oregon. To date, Art for the Journey has certified 58 individuals to implement the OMA program in the US and Canada. Scripps Gerontology has certified people around the US and beyond. Art for the Journey is one of 4 training centers in the US and Canada including Miami University, Ohio.
Dr. Lokon served as leader of the practicum and was supported by the certified trainers and staff from Art for the Journey. The participants learned first-hand what is expected of volunteers, how to train and motivate volunteers, and how to lead the sessions. They also sampled some of the OMA abstract art projects that are designed for success using 9 key principles of OMA design. The two day event was packed with activity, fun, learning and preparation for implementation and expansion.
Art for the Journey is excited to partner with Dr. Lokon to help expand OMA throughout Virginia and beyond. Currently, Art for the Journey is scheduled to present at the upcoming conference for Leading Age, Virginia in June 2019 to inspire even more individuals to attend the facilitator training and to hopefully bring OMA to every Virginia assisted living or nursing home site. To quote Nan Pascal, Community Engagement Coordinator at Saint Mary’s Woods, “I hope OMA becomes an epidemic,” after seeing first-hand the impact it has on residents, family members, and student volunteers. Art for the Journey is hopeful that the swelling numbers of individuals being diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimers, will have access to the innovative OMA program and eventually thousands of individuals will benefit.
Art for the Journey is extremely grateful for the hosts at Saint Mary’s Woods, especially Nan Pascal, Community Relations Coordinator, and the talented kitchen chef, Caroline, for delicious and beautifully presented refreshments. We are also so very grateful to all of the volunteer/elders who served as teachers for the new facilitators as they individually partnered with trainees for the art projects.
The next OMA certification course begins April 22, 2019 beginning with an online portion and approximately 15 hours of coursework prior to the practicum in Richmond on May 30th and 31st, 2019. Register under “Hybrid Training” at www.scrippsoma.org.