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Due to isolation from lock-downs of the pandemic, the art program OMA (Opening Minds through Art) was unable to continue in person. Through Art for the Journey's partners at St. Mary's Woods, Virtual OMA was born!

Through Zoom, the elders at St. Mary's Woods and trained volunteers from Virginia Commonwealth University were able to feel normalcy as conversation and creative were sparked and beautiful abstract art is created!

The Virtual OMA program was developed when it became clear that the pandemic was deeply affecting seniors who for safely were isolated in assisted living and nursing homes. Art for the Journey partners with Saint Mary's Woods in Richmond, VA, and with the generosity of donors who helped acquire desktop computers and earphones, the elders are spaced with art supplies delivered in stages. When the session starts by zoom, the group of student volunteers and the elders see one another in the group zoom. Soon break-out rooms create a one on one experience one elder and one student, and the friendship begins day one.

The student is there for friendship and support, and the elder creates the art while sharing time by zoom. The results are nearly the same as when it is in person. We hope to continue to provide OMA in any way possible, but also look forward to returning to the robustly attended weekly event in the Fall of 2022.

OMA is an evidence based innovative art program designed by Dr. Elizabeth Lokon to help people living with dementia. Art for the Journey has conducted OMA for more than 6 years, and train and certify others to provide the program elsewhere.