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, research-based, intergenerational art-making program for people with and without dementia. Originally designed for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of neurocognitive disorders, its failure-free design provides opportunities for creative self-expression and social engagement for people with limited cognitive abilities. OMA also provides volunteers with opportunities to improve their attitudes toward aging through the weekly one-on-one interaction with OMA program participants. To learn more about OMA's origin, 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 Special Projects 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.

For more information about training and certification, including the funding available to eligible long-term care communities, visit OMA Facilitator Certification and Registration.