Team HOPE is a community based advocacy and awareness programme of the Trinidad and Tobago Occupational Therapy Association (TTOTA). Seventy “ordinary” people have joined Team HOPE to learn more about occupational therapy, raise awareness for this much needed profession, advocate for persons of all abilities, fundraise for the association and train for the Rainbow Cup triathlon in June, 2014.
On December 7 Team HOPE organised its first awareness initiative for the 2014 programme with the students of the Princess Elizabeth Centre being the beneficiaries. Team HOPE’s coordinator and TTOTA’s Chairman, Priya Gomes explained, “The goal of the event was to bring cheer to the students through the use of fun therapeutic activities while allowing the members of Team HOPE to interact with the students and have a better understanding of their life experiences.”
Occupational therapists, Jeanne Sabga-Aboud, Aliya Drakes and Stephanie Llanos led the therapeutic activities and along with the “Hopees,” assisted the students where needed. These activities included making and decorating a Christmas wreath and Christmas ornaments, which were all made from household items like paper plates and corn starch. Their creations were then decorated with kite paper, glitter and homemade paint. These activities allowed the students to focus on their gross motor skills (walking, sitting upright), fine motor coordination (writing, grasping, pinching) and engaged their minds in creative processing.
Coupled with these activities, there was face painting, lots to eat and drink and there was surprise and joy when Santa appeared with his Christmas bag, loaded with gifts.
Gomes stated, “This event was not only for the students and their families, but also for Hopees to have a better understanding of what occupational therapy is and how it is beneficial to persons of all abilities. It is estimated that 15 percent of a population is deemed to have a disability, therefore there are over 195,000 people in Trinidad and Tobago who could benefit from our services.” She continued, “However with only nine occupational therapists, many citizens do not have access to these specialised services and unfortunately there is only one occupational therapist in the public system.”
TTOTA and Team HOPE thanked Marios, Hadco, Rituals and Blue Waters for their donations, as well as the Princess Elizabeth Centre and their participants for allowing them into their space and making the afternoon an enjoyable one.