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Scripps Celebrates Innovative Work of Opening Minds through Art and its Founder

Elizabeth  Lokon
Elizabeth "Like" Lokon, Founder of Opening Minds through Art (OMA)
Campus Announcements

Scripps Celebrates Innovative Work of Opening Minds through Art and its Founder

Elizabeth "Like" Lokon, Founder of Opening Minds through Art (OMA)

Scripps Gerontology Center is an innovation hub, developing new programs that meet the needs of all of us as we age. At the close of 2023, Elizabeth "Like" Lokon, Ph.D., Founder and Director of Opening Minds through Art (OMA) completed a distinguished 16-year tenure at the helm of the program. Amy Elliot, Ph.D., will step into the role of OMA’s Interim Director and carry on the legacy of transforming lives through the unifying power of art.

A Legacy of Creativity, Impact, and Science

Lokon led the development of three innovative educational programs, each designed to illuminate the potential of artistic expression: OMA, an intergenerational art program for people living with dementia; ScrippsAVID, a virtual program to reduce social isolation and loneliness, and the Creative Caregiving Guide. OMA at Miami University has flourished under Lokon’s leadership, garnering acclaim for its unwavering dedication to bridging generational divides.

Today, more than 1,028 artists, healthcare professionals, and educators are certified OMA facilitators, and the program has five training centers around the world—Oxford and Cleveland, Ohio; Richmond, Virginia; Alberta, Canada; and Jakarta, Indonesia.

OMA at Miami University has connected 2,898 older adults and 2,812 students through in-person and virtual intergenerational programming.

A significant body of research has documented the program's tangible benefits. Older adults living with dementia exhibit more interest and pleasure during OMA than during traditional activities. Volunteers become more positive in their attitudes towards individuals living with dementia following their participation in the program.

OMA has been recognized with 16 awards, including prestigious accolades from The Rosalinde Gilbert Foundation, Family Caregiver Alliance, and Generations United.

The Flagship Program

In 2008, OMA began at the Knolls of Oxford, marking the inception of a partnership that would redefine the landscape of intergenerational connection within the community. The Knolls graciously offered its location and dedicated staff, laying the foundation for OMA to flourish. Tim McGowan, President of Maple Knoll Communities, credits the program’s success to Lokon’s “professional persistence,” a term coined to describe her relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation.

Journey to Indonesia

The expansion of OMA to Jakarta holds a special significance for Lokon—the term “oma" means grandmother in Dutch, an homage to her Indonesian roots. 

Lokon spent six months in Indonesia on a Fulbright scholarship, laying the groundwork for OMA. She collaborated with the Center for the Study of Sustainable Community and established a home base for OMA programming at The Atma Jaya University campus clinic. 

Reflecting on the project's success, Lokon remarked, "OMA is translatable to other cultures," underscoring the program's ability to transcend linguistic and cultural barriers. Lokon's commitment to expanding perspectives and fostering global understanding through the transformative power of the arts epitomizes the goals of the Fulbright Program as a beacon of cross-cultural dialogue.


Video by Ink Photo Folks, Jakarta, Indonesia.


The Innovation Continues

As Lokon transitions to new pursuits in retirement, Amy Elliot, Interm Director as well as Associate Director, Meghan Young, and Assistant Director, Krysta Peterson, look toward OMA’s future with optimism, poised to embrace new opportunities and create innovative pathways to foster intergenerational connections through the arts.