Opening Minds through Art at The Cedars

OMA ArtworkEach Friday morning this fall, the residents at The Cedars Skilled Care Center are opening their minds through art. Thanks to a partnership between The Cedars and the Occupational Therapy (OT) Department at the University of Southern Maine, seniors and students are spending this semester learning, creating and growing together.

Opening Minds through Art (OMA) is an intergenerational art program for people with dementia, founded on the basis that people with dementia are capable of expressing themselves creatively. There is a growing body of evidence that creative expression actually improves the physical and psychological well-being of people with dementia.

At The Cedars, twelve OT students are volunteering their Friday mornings to work 1:1 with our residents to create beautiful pieces of art and learn from each other.  The art-making sessions will culminate in a gallery exhibition celebrating the artists’ accomplishments while educating the public about the creative capacities of people with dementia. Stay posted for more details on that event.

Before the students even met their senior art partners, however, they attended several training sessions to learn about this special program. Nick Viti, Director of Life Enrichment at The Cedars and an OT, received certification as an art facilitator through OMA and in dementia training through the Alzheimer’s Association. Nick provided the background and tools the OT students needed to work effectively with our residents.

This morning was the second art making session. “They (the residents) seem more comfortable today – they’re able to call on their emotional memories from last week and are really getting into it,” one student explained. As today’s class ended, everyone in the room celebrated their creations as they joined voices to sing, This Little Light of Mine – and shine they did!

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