Everyone has a story to tell, and we are no different.
The story of Early Links has several chapters. and within our story we tell of how Early Links grew to have the abilities to help people, just like you, live the life they imagine. As with everything in life, it all starts with a simple decision to get started...
Deciding to start OT
From Jacky - “I was in year 10 at Woolooware high school and it was time to pick electives for my senior years. I sat on my bedroom floor reading the UAC Guide (Universities Admission Centre), flipping through all the courses and reading the requirements and personality traits of each career choice. I knew I wanted to help people and that I had interest in health and science, but didn't know what that looked like when mixed into a career...until I read the Bachelor of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy outline and personality traits. It was me. I completed PE/Health/PD, Chemistry, Physics, Ancient History, Maths and English for the HSC. My interest for each subject relating to people; their behaviours, their worldly interactions and their health. When it came time to submit my preferences, without any work experience in Occupational Therapy, I applied for B.App.Sci(OT) at 4 Universities, a health science degree and then I threw Forensic Science into the mix to finish out the 6 preferences I needed. Having achieved the score required, I start at Sydney University in March 2006 with no idea what I was going to learn, but being very excited because I realised that finding a career that aligned with my personality traits and my values was, no doubt, going to be something I enjoyed. And I did...
Deciding to start Early Links
Throughout my time at Sydney University, my rowing career was also a major focus for me. In 2008, I was part of the under 23 team that competed in Germany. /looking to replicate this achievement in the following year, I chose 4th year electives that were flexible in their application and time on campus. Barriers to health Inclusion (online through Curtin Uni) and Learning and Coordination Disorders were great options as they only required 4 hours per week on-campus learning. Working with Dean of School and an external CEO, I completed a subject called “Health Program Design and Evaluation” as my final credit points. It was this subject, an extension of a third year project, that prompted me to start Early Links in 2010 only 6 months after graduating. We (the supervisors and myself) walked out of a meeting with the directors from 12 Sutherland Shire preschools, having presented the findings of the fine motor skills program I had designed and implemented into schools in PNG and the NT, and Robyn turned to me to say “do you realise you've created a business?” - “A what...no, it's just a project” - yep, a project with a business plan, a hungry crowd and a genuine need for this service... After inviting Cally Smith back into the team, we both set about planning how to start a private practice that addressed the need to educate and support the “children who would otherwise slip through the gaps” in early stage development, leading to increased effort and performances below their potential later in their learning.
The SNAPS program has been replicated a few times since it's Uni Project days but we certainly refined our skills and started working with a wider range of children and families with increasingly complex care needs. We were supported by a fantastic cheer squad, including our immediate families, and extended families – all with expertise we cherished; law, accounting, business.
Early Links grew slowly with our other part-time jobs 'paying the bills', until 2014 when Cally moved to Perth in support of her partner who had been accepted into an amazing position post-graduating. Cally is now a PhD Candidate in the field of Autism and children's social skills.
When I left my position at St George hospital in late 2014, it was a turning point for Early Links. The full-time focus and my ability to apply what I was learning through The Entourage's Entrepreneur Development Course allowed me to start redesigning the foundations of our programs and the culture within our Team and within our community.
Along the way, there have been countless hours of professional development and personal learning. Each person on the Early Links Team bring their own unique personality and personal experience into the services they provide. I'd encourage you to Meet our Team. And when I say “meet our team”, sure, their professional credentials are listed, but what is most important is their story. Each one of people on the Early Links Team is a human being first and a therapist second; it is their personal story that makes each one, so very special. Read our Personal and Professional Stories...
Mission - Vision - Values
As part of the valuable learning our Team has received from The Entourage, none has been more valuable than understanding the importance of having a Mission, talking about our Vision and holding ourselves accountable to our Values. Sharing these attributes with our community helps us to work together on achieving your goals.