I started functioning as a private occupational therapist at a mainstream high school in 1998. So I have dedicated more than half of my working career of 42 years working with older primary school learners, high school learners as well as adult learners. Over the past two decades hundreds of learners crossed my path and is still crossing my path, but I still remember my first high school referral very well.
2. My first referral
He was an attractive looking blond boy in Grade 10. Like many other children he had concentration difficulties, some underlying learning challenges and was at risk academically. His parents were desperate as he was also a ‘naughty boy’ despite his charming personality. His girlfriend was a prefect but that did not really make a difference to his choices in life. Art was one of his subjects and one day he convinced me to buy a painting, titled ‘Baby Face’, from him as he needed money. I then became the owner of ‘Baby Face.’
3. The accident
Unfortunately, this boy kept on making the wrong choices in life. In his Grade 11 year he was in a motor bike accident and sustained severe head injuries. The neurosurgeon believed he would not be able to complete his matric. But we decided it was better for him to go back to school. With the support of his teachers, his parents, myself, and other professionals, he passed matric. I still have the little card somewhere that he gave me when he passed. It said: “Thanks Ma’am for helping me to pass matric.”
4. A sad ending
The boy went on to do some studies after matric although he really struggled to remain focused and on the right path. Due to his lifestyle choices, he sadly lost his life at a young age. Although he did not fully change his life around yet, he started going to church in the time before his death. His mum told me at the funeral, “Estelle, we did what we could for him.” But he made his choices…
5. ‘Baby Face’
‘Baby Face’ has been in my home practice area for more than two decades. This special painting represents all the children that have crossed my path and still cross my path. I strive to help all my referrals to develop the skills they need to ‘Be More’ effective in one or more areas of their lives. I want them to learn, grow, develop themselves, make the right choices, persevere, and not give up.
I am reaching the ‘compulsory retirement age’ for public servants and educators in South Africa on 26 November. Fortunately, I am self-employed and not a public servant or educator. So if I have ‘Baby Faces’ to help, I will continue working. I have developed so many new skills (like creating e-books, developing an online course, sending out a newsletter, blogging, etc.) in the past 2 years (since Covid). And, I have lots of ideas for the next few years. If it is God’s will, I am sure some of my ideas will become a reality. All my ‘Baby Faces’ have inspired me to develop myself over the years and helped me to Be More. I therefore want to continue sharing what I know and empower younger generations to Be More.
We all have different ‘Baby Faces’ in our lives. It can be our clients, our own children or any special person or people in our lives. Do what you can, while you can for you ‘Baby Faces’. Help them to Be More and become who God wants them to be.