Story by:
Josie Rader, BA, MGS, CPT
Resident Lifestyle Specialist
Elements Wellness Center

Josie Radar standing in front of brick wall

I decided to take a class during my first year at Miami University, in 2011, which shifted my education and career trajectories. I began in the field of early childhood education with a goal of becoming an elementary teacher. I love working with children; the upbeat, energetic atmosphere which keeps you on your toes. It was not until sitting through a couple of Opening Minds through Art (OMA) classes where I would fall in love with the field of gerontology and serving the aging population. 

OMA's mission is to bridge the gap between age and cognitive barriers through art. I spent six years serving with OMA on many different levels. First, as a student volunteer, working directly with individuals with some form of cognitive impairment (many times Alzheimer's disease or other dementias). Then, I spent time as a student leader; facilitating the student volunteers and residents as they created beautiful, failure-free art. The magic found as the person with dementia created something so meaningful, became my favorite part of the week. 

Opening Minds Through Art Photos

Upon graduating with my bachelors of arts degree in gerontology, I accepted a spot in the masters of gerontological studies program at Miami University. During the two years of this graduate program, I was able to continue serving OMA as a graduate assistant. I concluded my time with OMA when I accepted a full-time position with Community First Solutions in 2016, after a year of volunteering and interning with Elements in 2015. 

Opening Minds Through Art Photo

After my summer internship with Elements Wellness Center, I knew I would be a perfect fit for the lively, fun atmosphere. It's been over ten years since my first art session with OMA, but every time I participate in a session new joy is sparked. The Opening Minds through Art program cancels negative stigmas of aging, changed my perspective of cognitive impairments, and encouraged me to choose a career serving the aging population. I am thrilled to offer this program to our residents at our facilities this year. 

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To learn more about our retirement campuses, visit: www.Community-FirstLiving.org