A local children’s development specialist has been crowned winner of the sought-after Outstanding Innovation Award at the UK’s largest dedicated event for occupational therapists, the Occupational Therapy (OT) Show.
Janet Taylor, paediatric occupational therapist for Derbyshire Healthcare, picked up the title after creating a new program for fine motor skills which is planned to be rolled out to schools across Derby and beyond. Janet is based at the Lighthouse on St Mark's Road in Derby.
The program aims to significantly enhance the prospects of children by empowering teachers and teaching assistants to identify and help pupils with fine motor problems, and show them what activities and exercises will help.
Fine motor skills are developed from birth. They are the essential skills we all need, and involve the movement and coordination of small hand and finger muscles. Fine motor skills enable us to do tasks such as holding and using scissors, cutlery and pencils correctly, and fastening buttons and zips etc.
Speaking about the innovation, Janet said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive the Outstanding Innovation Award. The idea is one I’ve been developing for some time now after recognising the decline in our children’s fine and gross motor skills due the significant change in lifestyle which has taken place over recent decades.
“The hand skills program enables teaching staff or parents to support children to develop the small muscles in their hands and fingers. Getting it right at an early age removes difficulties seen later on in the child’s education.
“I wanted to create something easily accessible by school staff and parents – a toolkit that could be implemented easily in a timely manner, rather than it being complicated and requiring time. The teacher, parent or guardian can quickly assess their pupil or child’s hand skills without the need of OT intervention and then implement a variety of activities to help improve their hand movements. Furthermore, the program includes a wealth of information on how to support a child with using scissors and getting a correct pencil grip, to mention just a few.
“The Government’s Physical Literacy Programme for Schools has seen a momentous reduction in referral rates for gross motor difficulties (movement and coordination of large body parts such as arms and legs). However, this new program will play its part by filling the gap for fine motor skills and assisting those whose skills are less advanced in a timely and efficient manner.
"Not only this, but I hope the program will also prevent the low self-esteem and other mental health issues that are associated with poor school performance and dyspraxia.”
Judged by some of the UK's leading OT professionals from both the private and statutory sector, the annual Occupational Therapy Show Awards, which takes place at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Birmingham, aims to recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions made to both the profession and to the clients they serve.