Beyond teaching art techniques and supplying craft materials, we offer safe creative space for individuals to learn and express themselves.

Developed by Dr. Elizabeth Lokon at the Scripps Gerontology Center - Miami University, Ohio, Opening Minds through Art (OMA) is an award-winning, evidence-based, intergenerational art-making program for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of neurocognitive disorders. Its failure-free program provides opportunities for creative self-expression and social engagement for people with dementia. OMA also provides volunteers with opportunities to improve their attitudes toward aging through the weekly interaction with OMA program participants. To learn more about OMA, please visit:

The experience of dementia and Alzheimer's, for both the individual and their family, can be emotionally and relationally devastating. OMA is an innovative intervention that pairs young volunteers with elders experiencing a neurocognitive disorder. In this one-on-one format, the pair follows a structured process for creating original abstract art. Each elder finds a way to express themselves in this supportive and empowering social setting, allowing them to “come out from behind” their disease.

Meanwhile, the younger generation gleans insight about the importance and value of generosity, patience, and living in the moment. This special bond built between partners is the inspiration for the program name, because the Dutch word for "grandmother" is "oma."

The elders produce many stunning pieces of art that are exhibited at a celebratory reception at the end of the session. The families get to share in the joy of their “artist” and find a new way to transcend the neurocognitive limitations to touch their loved one.

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“OMA changes people," says Nan Pascal, Director of Community Relations at St. Mary’s Woods, "I have watched OMA participants gain confidence and courage because of the success-guaranteed design of the OMA program. Friendships between elder participants reach beyond the art class and alleviate isolation. Undergraduate student partners have changed their college majors to disciplines like art therapy and gerontology because of their profound OMA experience. Medical student partners report that they will look at elderly patients in a different way because of OMA. Families treasure the joy so apparent in their loved one's art.”

To learn more about the genesis and research behind the OMA program, visit

This program is funded by individual and corporate gifts, the Nunnally Foundation, and the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

COVID RESPONSE: During the pandemic, people in Assisted Living and Nursing homes were at the highest risk as well as felt the impact of social isolation more than any other segment of our population. Art for the Journey became creative and innovative by developing "Virtual OMA" to be able to provide the social connection and opportunity for creative expression for elders a new way. Virtual OMA is delivered by zoom, and uses breakout rooms to pair elders with students at VCU. The session is similar to regular OMA in that it begins as a group activity. The person-centered approach and one on one attention occurs when the breakout time happens. As it is expected to continue to be a best practice to limit volunteers, Art for the Journey is sharing the ways to do Virtual OMA with OMA facilitators across the country by creating a WEBINAR to explain the details of how we make this happen. The webinar occurred live on April 26, 2021 and is available as a recording, for more information contact Cindy Paullin at

TV 12 Interview - "Virtual OMA"

For more information about training and certification, visit OMA Facilitator Certification and Registration.

IMPORTANT NEWS!: Visit the OMA certification page to learn more about the Three Year CMP funding awarded on July 1, 2021 for a State Wide OMA program expansion through Art for the Journey in partnership with Leading Age Virginia! Your nursing home may be available for funding!