Education Creates Accessibility, Opportunity for Occupational Therapy in Jamaica

In a constantly changing world, education is key to providing quality care and therapy. Smile a While Foundation is happy to announce the first professionals benefiting with training scholarships through our Interdisciplinary Team Training Series (ITTS).


Everyday, information and technology is changing. This makes the need for continuing education essential for occupational therapists to maintain clinical excellence and update their skills, knowledge and technique to best serve patients. 


There are currently less than ten occupational therapists working in Jamaica, according to the Association of Caribbean Occupational Therapists. Inadequate occupational therapy services is a direct result of the absence of a local training program. Access to training matters in order to be able to provide therapy services to kids. 


During Founder Joanne Oates initial visit to Jamaica, occupational therapists said the knowledge and experience gained from Smile A While’s visit proved instrumental in providing education and training to the different stakeholders.


“Occupational therapists are not accessible in this area. Just even having access to a therapy where she could work with parents for a short period of time to focus on … (Joanne has) been very helpful when we need recommendations for occupational therapists, she has already been helpful.” ~Shanique Westcarr, MICO Care Centre in Jamaica


One of our pilar programs is the Interdisciplinary Team Training Series (ITTS). ITTS provides travel awards to professionals that work with special needs children in Jamaica to pursue continuing education. This includes awards to travel to the USA for professional development training as well as an e-learning tuition award to take online training courses. 

Recently through our ITTS program, we were able to sign up four professional therapists in Jamaica for an upcoming virtual conference, “Autism: Beyond Limits.” This conference is an amazing opportunity that will be a great experience for these OTs. 


“Professionals that work with the special needs population pride themselves on keeping up with the latest clinical evidence and interventions to best support their clients. Attending this conference is one major way that the teachers and psychologists at MICO Care Centre can become knowledgeable about the most recent evidence as it pertains to Autism,” stated Joanne Oates, Smile A While Founder 


Lifelong learning looks a little different for every occupational therapist, but is absolutely critical to providing quality care. Every year there are new technologies, rules, regulations and updated competencies that require continual retraining and education to stay up-to-date and informed. 


Smile A While is proud to be working to create access to therapy services for special needs children in the Caribbean, specifically focused first on Jamaica. We aim to grow this program throughout the Caribbean so that special needs children and families living there can receive continued therapeutic intervention at no cost.