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High school students, senior living community residents form bond over art

(WTAP)
Published: May. 2, 2018 at 10:21 PM EDT
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A senior living community in Washington County hopes to bridge the gap between the young and old.

Since last fall, Harmar Place in Marietta has implemented OMA, Opening Minds Through Art. The intergenerational program, developed at the University of Miami in Ohio, allows Marietta High School students to create abstract art with residents living with dementia at Harmar.

"It means so much to not only our residents but it really means a lot to our volunteers too," Terri Schneider of the Harmar Place said.

"I wanted to give our residents a sense of empowerment and I love to see them happy and through this program you can just see how happy it makes them and makes their lives so much richer."

Miranda Castillo, a junior at Marietta High, is partnered with Betty Weese, 88. She decided to participate because she loves community service and thought it would be fun.

"She makes my week, she's so happy all the time she makes me laugh all the time she's just hilarious," Castillo said when asked about her relationship with Weese.

Weese said she looks forward to seeing Castillo every week and has had a wonderful time partaking in the program.

The OMA program runs for 9 weeks. Every Wednesday during that time, the Marietta High students travel to Harmar after school to participate in an art activity with their Harmar partners. The program concludes with an art show and auction. All the proceeds raised benefit the program.

"I think there's a lot of misconceptions about people in homes like this and she just really has so much life and so much love for everything and I just love her so much," Castillo said about Weese.

"She's my little girl," Weese said.

"It just gives them so much to each other they just become friends it becomes a very meaningful relationship for them," Schneider said.