Jackie Davis, Director of Life Enrichment at The Christian Village at Mt. Healthy in Cincinnati, Ohio (class of 2016), shared her tips and stories below. She started small, completing a six-week session for six residents paired with staff members to gain confidence in running the program. She then started collaborating with Mt. Healthy High School students. One attributed her high school graduation to OMA.
Favorite Art Project:
While many projects have been fun and successful, Jackie’s favorite is “Magic Dots.” She said, “The residents always enjoy it and the pictures turn out beautifully. I like to use corks and sponge daubers to get a variety of circle sizes.”
Tips For New OMA Facilitators:
It is better to try and fail than not to try at all. This applies to art projects and to residents. Some residents may appear like they are unable to make art. Her advice is, “Just try, usually they succeed.” Jackie tries to meet residents and students where they are at for any given day. She pairs students with residents they can connect to establish a loving, positive experience. Jackie calls it a “ministry” because of how much the experience impacts the students and the residents. Her advice for new facilitators is to find a champion from the volunteers’ organization, stay organized, and use the resources provided by the training and the internet.
“OMA means more than just doing art… it means changing lives and opening minds.” – OMA Volunteer
Although Jackie’s biggest challenge is maintaining her volunteer base, she has made a great impact on the HS students who volunteered in OMA. To accommodate her high school students who face personal obstacles, which makes their attendance inconsistent at times, Jackie always keeps at least one student as a substitute. Overall, her students are dedicated to OMA. She said, “The kids truly try to make it to the session. They love it!” One particular student attributed her HS graduation to OMA. She would have dropped out of high school it were not for OMA. At an art show celebration speech, this student said, “OMA has really changed my life… when I started the program, I fell in love with it. I felt like it gave me purpose.”
Jackie will work with the local business association to display OMA art in nearby businesses to increase awareness for the OMA program and reduce the stigma of dementia.