Opening Minds through Art (OMA) – ready for summer!

Opening Minds through Art (OMA) – ready for summer!

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Are you looking for a summer activity that is creative and inspiring? Consider being an art partner with elders experiencing dementia, in the Opening Minds through Art (OMA) program. After successful sessions in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016, we are excited to again be participants in this program with Friends Fellowship Community.

Training is on June 9 and 10, and a six-week OMA program begins on June 14 for Tuesday participants and on June 16 for Thursday participants. If you are interested, you need to complete an application, available here or from the Center for Service Learning office, located in the Library in Hayes Hall. You also must pass a two-step Mantoux TB test, which will be provided by Friends Fellowship. The final day that applications can be accepted is May 27. Participants may choose to volunteer for either or both the Tuesday and Thursday sessions. The summer session will end with an art show on July 28.

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The Spring 2016 semester of Opening Minds through Art (OMA) was an overwhelming success. IU East joined with Friends Fellowship Community (FFC) to connect 16 IU East students with elders living at FFC. Friends Fellowship is the only location in Indiana to offer OMA to its residents, and IU East is proud to partner with them.

OMA, developed by Dr. Like Lokon, an artist and gerontologist at Miami University (OH), pairs volunteers with elders with dementia to create failure-free works of abstract art. Together, the elder artists and their volunteers build strong interpersonal relationships, strengthen their communication skills and develop confidence in each other’s abilities and creativity. A number of these partnerships grow beyond the artmaking experience – many of the volunteers continue to meet with their artists even after the program is over.

OMA volunteers complete a three-day training program which provides a basic understanding of dementia. Volunteers complete a dementia simulation which places them in the mindset and experience of the artists they assist, and they observe an OMA activity to see firsthand the quality of the artwork produced by OMA artists. After training, the Fall and Spring programs are 9 weeks, during which volunteers meet with their elder partner to make artworks using the OMA method.

While OMA artists and volunteers rarely come to the program with previous art training, the works produced reflect a high level of creativity. All of the materials are high-quality art supplies, from 68 lb. watercolor paper to metallic acrylics. The use of genuine art supplies, as opposed to crayons or materials like poster paint, demonstrates OMA’s firm belief that these elders with dementia are real artists, with the ability to make art that is noteworthy, original and remarkable.

We hope you’ll join us in this continuing art adventure! For more info., please contact

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