Show the world what you love about OT with a teddy bear

Ash Pano

At the top of Little Adams Peak, Ella, Sri Lanka with paediatric OT Charlotte O’Reilly.

Recently, a paediatric OT holidayed in Sri Lanka on a lone trip for personal growth and development. The OT is based in a London school for children with speech language and communication difficulties in which her role involves being a pastoral care group leader for a group of year 3 children. Charlotte felt she wanted to make the trip purposeful for work and be able to share something with the children upon her return.

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At the airport and in the cockpit on London Heathrow to Sri Lanka Flight


Blossom House School [] has a very good way of cohesive working in which all occupational therapy and speech and language therapy is fully integrated across the curriculum. Both therapists and teachers can be group leaders or heads of houses and this means that, at various periods throughout the years, children have a different specialist or teacher as their group leader. It creates an organisation that makes everybody feel on the same level, with seamless connections between teachers and therapists.

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With local children on the train


At Pinawala Elephant Orphanage


The motivation behind having a class mascot at school was to support with occupational engagement and sharing news and information with peers. The class have ‘Ash Bear’ who is in fact a monkey! Ash bear has been on many trips and outings with children and staff, including the dentist, paint balling and to see Father Christmas. He was given a Santa outfit by the man himself and wore this proudly accompanied with an ‘I heart OT’ badge. This aesthetically pleasing outfit attracted attention across Sri Lanka and resulted in international discussions about OT, class mascots and speech and language difficulties, and enabled lots of Sri Lankan children to play with something new!

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With new friends at the top of Adams Peak & at a Waterfall in Ella

Having returned to school, the monkey worked as an object of reference enabling the children to reflect on what the monkey did without having to reflect directly about themselves, which can be more challenging for them. The OT badge with its bold colours and writing led lots of people to ask ‘so what is O.T.’ – that perennial question that is even more challenging to answer when there is a language barrier!! However, with a clear and simplistic explanation, it felt as though a piece of knowledge and exposure was passed on across Sri Lanka. It was also a personal experience for me to develop my explanation of OT in a simplified manner and gaining an understanding of how it feels for the children I work with to communicate something they find difficult to explain.

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The monkey and badge travelled over 1000km in just 11 days!

The use of a class mascot not only supports the children here with communication development but also encourages occupational engagement, as at the weekend the children take the monkey to different places and look forward to taking part in different activities!

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A romantic dinner for two in UnaWatuma discussing what we love about OT at the end of the trip!

This visual and simple way of promoting the profession we love is easy to do. Please continue this passion and wear the badge, spread the love, just in time for Valentines Day!

Don’t forget to hashtag #iheartOT



Charlotte O’Reilly

Occupational Therapist

Blossom House School

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