By ATHI NONDZABA
Nina Vermaak is an occupational and yoga therapist who graduated from Stellenbosch University in 2018. In 2019, she moved to Makhanda to complete her community service year at Fort England Hospital, where she worked for three years before opening her own practice here.
Occupational therapists work with people of all ages with various health issues. They work to adapt surroundings and tasks to help people live better with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. Although Vermaak works with adults, her work mainly focuses on children between the ages of four and 16. She says she has always felt an affinity with children, “I connect with them. I love listening to their stories. The way they think fascinates me, and it reminds me to stay in touch with my inner child as well,” she says.
Even after her one-year extended into three years, Vermaak chose to stay in Makhanda to open her clinic because she noticed that few people offer occupational therapy services here. Unlike big cities where almost every school has access to occupational therapy, Vermaak felt that schools in Makhanda should benefit from OT services to support those children who need them.
“Sometimes we think our children will grow out of their ‘quirks’ and down the line it hinders their progress in school and life.” But addressing children’s challenges early will help them flourish in all areas of life, she said. “When it comes to school-aged children, early intervention is always the best intervention.”
Find Nina Vermaak’s clinic at 41 African Street. You can follow her on Instagram: @ninav_ot.