Lake Prince Woods Receives Art-Inspired Grant Geared for People with Dementia and Similar Disorders

Donna Franklin and Megan Pryor.

Lake Prince Woods — part of UCC-related EveryAge — announced in early October that it is the recipient of a grant valued at $3,500 through LeadingAge Virginia and Opening Minds through Art (OMA), an intergenerational art-making program founded by Dr. Elizabeth Lokon in 2007 for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of neurocognitive disorders.

The grant includes scholarships for two employees to become certified OMA facilitators, plus $2,000 in start-up art supplies, along with comprehensive resources for implementing the program. Since receiving the OMA grant, Megan Pryor, director of activities, and Donna Franklin, activities coordinator, have completed the certification process. The virtual training took 15 hours to complete and the two-day practicum included hands-on training to ensure the smooth implementation of the program into existing activities.

“We are delighted to have this program made available to residents at Lake Prince Woods,” said Judy Raymond, executive director of the Suffolk, Va., older adult community. “OMA focuses on the remaining strengths of older adults to create an environment for self-expression and social engagement. Aligning with our same objectives at Lake Prince Woods, OMA promotes well-being, joy, and connection for those living with memory impairment.”

The training sessions were invaluable, said Pryor. “This truly has been an amazing and eye-opening experience thus far,” Pryor said. “We have been able to do some of the projects ourselves as well as getting the opportunity to work as volunteers with elders and leaders of groups at our practicum in Richmond. After getting those hands-on experiences, we have really seen what beautiful work can be created regardless of skill level and cognitive or physical ability.”

Pryor said she hopes to implement the program through resident activities. “This program will help us cultivate our residents’ artistic outlets while providing sensory stimulation,” said Pryor. “We are planning to begin the 8-to-10-week course with 3-to-6 dementia residents in January. Donna has already done a 1-on-1 project with a dementia resident  … and it went very well!”

OMA is grounded in person-centered care principles, where adults with dementia are paired with volunteers who are trained to rely on imagination instead of memory and focus on remaining strengths instead of lost skills. The OMA program enables people with dementia to assume new roles as artists and teachers and leave a legacy of beautiful artwork.

“This will be a great opportunity to bring a new program to our residents, as well as bring volunteers over to help them learn more about those living with dementia — and being able to see the true ‘them’ that they still are, and not just their labeled diagnoses,” Pryor added. “I am very eager to begin our Open Minds through Art program here at Lake Prince Woods.”

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