Scripps Gerontology “Opening Minds Through Art” Program

Aligned with the principles of the Miami University of Ohio’s Scripps Gerontology Center’s “Opening Minds through Art” program (OMA)*, Art for The Journey has developed a semi-weekly art program specifically for elders with dementia. Our program is aimed at promoting social engagement, autonomy, and dignity through the experience of creative self-expression.

The Elder Program is based on empirical research that advocates for the provision of creative-expressive arts activities supported by individualized attention. Studies document the positive results such programs have had for people with dementia.

The Elders Program provides the art activities AND the individualized attention, through the engagement of student volunteers. All volunteers are educated in the basics of dementia and in effective engagement and enabling strategies, and are oriented to the principles of OMA.

Guided by the trained volunteers, elders are assisted in using a variety of art materials to create original visual art. Twice monthly, for up to one hour, five individuals with dementia are assisted by five volunteers, in a one-on-one experience. In this group setting, elders are encouraged to be self-expressive, not in words but through the creation of colorful frameable abstract art. The art-creation sessions culminate in a gallery exhibition celebrating the individual artists’ accomplishments, while simultaneously enlightening the public as to the creative capacities of individuals with dementia

The Elder Program’s approach is grounded in “person-centered” ethics, and has a specific methodology that ensures failure-free creative experiences. We believe that this one-on-one experience provides an opportunity for a special bond to take place – a bond that transcends words, and engages the spirit of both the volunteer and the elder.


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