Opening Minds through Art Program in Warwick Neck

Saint Elizabeth Community Memory Care Day Center finds success with intergenerational program


We never anticipated the impact that the program would have on our participants and their families,” explains Linda Sinnott, program director at the Memory Care Center in Warwick Neck. “It’s been incredible to see the enthusiasm and excitement in our artists and our volunteers.” Sinnott is talking about Opening Minds through Art or OMA as she calls it, an eight-week series of workshops that partners people living with dementia with volunteers to create meaningful works of art. The program launched in 2015 at the Adult Day Centers, after Sinnott and recreational therapy supervisor Bailey Kowal attended training and became certified in OMA activities.

Sinnott tells the story of one participant named Michael, who – fairly progressed in his memory loss as a result of dementia – was selected as a candidate for the program. As his participation increased, he became more and more engaged. Michael created a beautiful painting titled “Twins,” which was displayed during a gallery night for family members. Michael’s wife was noticeably emotional, revealing that when her husband was young, he had a twin who tragically passed away – something he rarely spoke about. Through OMA’s creative process, Michael was able to express his feelings about this part of his past. It was a groundbreaking moment for him, his family, and the staff at the center.

“Often when older adults begin to experience memory loss, we focus on what they can’t do,” says Sinnott. “No driving, no using the stove, and on and on. But with OMA, we focus on what they can do. They can be artists, and the results have empowered and engaged them in new ways.”

Participants are teamed with volunteers who help in the process of art-making. This year, the Memory Care Center has partnered with the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter High School, recruiting students interested in healthcare careers to collaborate with participants.

“The intergenerational piece is an added bonus,” says Sinnott. “Students get to experience the joy of working with older adults, sharing stories, and building relationships, while, of course, making art.”

As one participant’s family member described his wife’s experience with OMA, “She truly enjoyed painting; it provided both a creative outlet and a sense of achievement.” The artwork created through the program lines the walls of the Memory Care Center, serving as a constant reminder of the important work that happens there. Learn more at



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