Opening Minds through Art

OMA pairOpening Minds through Art (OMA) is a program founded on strengths-based psychology: capitalizing on what people with dementia can do, including expressing themselves creatively.

Through a WPHF grant, staff at Easter Seals Florida’s Day Break adult day care program (operating at the Elinor & T. William Miller Center for Older Adult Services in Winter Park) has been trained in the OMA program.  The program is implemented in group sessions where up to 12 trained volunteers or staff assist 12 people with dementia in creating visual art.  This one-to-one ratio builds confidence and allows for close relationships between people with dementia and trained volunteers/staff.

The OMA art-making process involves carefully staged steps aimed at maximizing the possibility of creative expression. This is experienced when participants are provided with manageable choices and failure free activities that allow them to become active agents in their own creative process.  The art-making sessions culminate in a gallery exhibition celebrating the artists’ accomplishments while educating the public about the creative capacities of people with dementia.

In addition to Day Break staff, college students from UCF’s School of Social Work were among the original group trained.  Day Break leadership is optimistic that other student groups will be interested in participating in this hour-long program which will soon be offered to members twice per month.

OMA single“We are already seeing the impact of this program in the deepening of relationships between staff and members.  There is a feeling of oneness shared when both parties, neither of which is an expert in the visual arts, learn a new process together.  That focus creates a very strong bond.” Said Brooke Dixon, Arts and Wellness Activity Assistant.

The two-year grant provides funding for staffing and training in two other nationally recognized therapeutic arts-based programs.  They include KAIROS Dancing Heart™ which is an award-winning dance program and TimeSlips, a group storytelling process where members view a photograph or picture and tell the story through their imagination.  To learn more, contact Jose Santana, Activity Director (jsantana@fl.easterseals.com) or Brooke Dixon, Arts and Wellness Activity Assistant (bdixon@fl.easterseals.com) or call 407-629-4565, ext. 12107.