Big Tree Therapy, the dream, turned reality.
written by Elrika Beukes
Big Tree Therapy is a dream that started growing in Vina and Elrika’s hearts since 2015. Both whom are qualified occupational therapists. We felt, and still feel compelled, to nurture and cultivate the little ones who enter through our practice doors. We were blessed to have a few key-players at the beginning of this journey that provided us with tips and ideas, business savvy, thank you Martin from Herbst Associates Bluestar Financial Advisory Services, strategic advice as well as a lot of support and encouragement from friends and family.
The name Big Tree Therapy embodies a bigger vision of the difference we want to make in small people’s lives. We want to provide them with an opportunity to grow from a small seed into a Big Tree. A Big Tree that provides shade to those around them. A Big Tree that is confident to grow to their full potential.
We knew it was going to be a lot of hard work and dedication, but the truth is, we only truly realized just how much hard work goes into a private practice once we tied our shoelaces and started running.
Running a practice, being a therapist, managing the finances, taking care of the marketing, liaising with schools and teachers and planning for the future is enough work for at least six people and requires one to wear multiple hats at the same time.
The first few months of our practice was spent in deciding what ‘look-and-feel’ we wanted to create, from the colours on our walls to our logo and business cards. We have decided that we wanted a professional yet comfortable environment where parents can feel at home. During the earlier years, the parents enjoyed a view from our waiting area, at Lombardy Business Park, of cows grazing on the farm across the road. Nowadays the Shere area has developed quite a bit.
In the beginning, one of our challenges was to establish a client base i.e. ‘creating’ a name for ourselves. To overcome this challenge, we arranged 15 minute info-snacks at schools with whom we shared our OT knowledge about basic developmental skills. For instance, crossing of the midline. We then empowered the teachers with knowledge as well as practical tips on how to practice this skill in their classrooms. We still continue to do this to this day. It is an effective way of keeping contact with the teachers and ploughing back into the community.
We also hosted our first Information Evening in 2016, we invited Ms Maretha Bekker, our previous lecturer from the University of Pretoria, our mentor and friend to share her knowledge with our parents and teachers. This grew to become highly sought-after events. We are currently hosting five events a year. You can find out more about these events here.
We have grown from a team of two Occupational Therapists into a multidisciplinary team which includes an additional Occupational Therapist, Carrolien Bornman, Play and Trauma therapist, Liesl Graham, Speech and Language Therapist, Jacqui de Beer as well as an Educational Psychologist, Christelle Huddle.
We love the saying from John Gardner:
“Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well”
We believe that for a practice to be successful, or any business for that matter, one needs to have a clear vision, working hard towards that goal but also to keep in touch with yourself, your family, your business partner and your client base which includes the children, parents and teachers. I would like to compare it to the PEOP-model (Person-Environment-Occupation-Performance-model) where occupational performance and participation only stems and can only occur once there is balance effective integration and collaboration between all of these areas.
It is so essential to keep the light and bright side of life in mind, especially during the tough times. Remember that ‘this’ type of work, choosing to touch people through occupational therapy is ‘eternal’ work, life-changing work. Let us not grow despondent and forget the impact we can have on those around us.
Lastly, we invite you to join us in our mission to assist children to achieve their potential. We are all aware of the toll that our busy lifestyles have on the development of our children and realize now, more than ever the importance of making sure that all the developmental stepping stones are in place. Providing children from a young age with the skills to succeed in life, is like encouraging a young tree to grow upright so that it can reach its full potential. In our practice, we attempt to keep things fresh and new to empower parents and children with the knowledge and skills to achieve at school and home. Our hope is that we will be able to make a significant difference in the lives of many children. These children will then be equipped to make a difference in their community thus causing a ripple effect which reaches much further. The hope at the end of the day is that we will have a forest of well educated and skilled young people in South Africa.
We hope that our story will inspire you to dream big and do the ordinary things extraordinarily well.
- Ref: Baum, C. M., Christiansen, C. H., & Bass, J. D. (2015). The Person-Environment-Occupation- Performance (PEOP) model. In C. H. Christiansen, C. M. Baum, & J. D. Bass (Eds.), Occupational therapy: Performance, participation, and well-being (4th ed., pp. 49-56). Thorofare, NJ: SLACK Incorporated.
- Images provided by Pixabay