More OMA, Greater Impact, Happier and Healthier Residents!

Two members of the Life Enhancement team, Sophia Ottoni-Wilhelm and Megan Reifeis, attended a four day training during the first full week in August to become facilitators for the Opening Minds through Art (OMA) program at Friends Fellowship Community. The training took place at The Knolls of Oxford, a continuing care retirement community in Oxford, Ohio. It was led by Dr. Like Lokon, the founder of OMA and professor at Scripps Gerontology Center of Miami University, and her colleagues. In attendance were 25 nurses, administrators and activity personnel from as far away as New York City.

On the first day of the training, we attended a dinner to get to know one another before hearing a lecture by Dr. Lokon regarding the research supporting the OMA program. We learned that participating in intergenerational art projects positively affects the happiness of participants for the rest of their day. We also learned about the biological changes resulting from Alzheimer’s disease.

On the second day of training, we ran through OMA sessions and learned about the program from the perspective of volunteers and were able to complete four different art projects. We were paired with residents at The Knolls and were able to help them create an art project. On the third day of training we were exposed to the program from the perspective of facilitators, learning how to attract and train volunteers and what steps are involved in running a session. We also had a small art show that evening, taking our partners from the day before and experiencing their framed artwork and the artwork of their peers. On the last day, we got to experience directing an OMA session as a facilitator with a group of residents and partners. Before the graduation ceremony, we were able to ask questions of a panel of persons with a great deal of OMA experience. Sitting on the panel was our very own Life Enhancement Director Melissa Baxter and President Jeff Baxter, providing insight on how to instigate and maintain a successful OMA program.

It was a full couple of days, and we were very happy to have such quality exposure to such an exciting program. We can’t wait to be more involved in the OMA process in the coming Fall Semester.

Sophia Ottoni-Wilhelm