Marika is a pediatric occupational therapist living and working in San Francisco. After years of working in traditional OT settings, Marika finally decided to take therapy out of the clinic and into the wild. She started Bearfoot OT to help children build skills with nature as the backdrop and facilitator for real, concrete change. She can now be found working with kids and families outside in parks around the Bay Area. Marika has a B.A. in African/African American Studies from Dartmouth College and a M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Boston University. She plays competitive ultimate frisbee internationally, and most likely can be found on her bike, running, or trying (and failing) to catch up on podcasts.
Bearfoot OT was started in order to meet the need of Bay Area families and their kids to get outside and play in nature! We offer individual, sibling and playdate occupational therapy sessions as well as small nature-based social groups. Through outdoor nature play, we help improve various areas that are essential to healthy child development such as gross motor and fine motor skills, self regulation, sensory processing - as well as improving creativity and imagination! Bearfoot's sessions are held in San Francisco (Glen Park Canyon and the Presidio) and San Rafael (China Camp) in rain, shine, warm or cold. All sessions are led by a skilled occupational therapist.
We know nature matters for kids
Things are changing in the world for our kids - more structured activities during and after school, more screen time, and less time spent in - and connecting with - nature. There are numerous studies that conclude there has been a sharp decrease in outside play time for children in recent decades, and it is felt especially in cities and urban environments. Children are engaged in more indoor sedentary play activities, usually involving a screen. If kids are able to be outside, it is most often on a sidewalk, sports field, recess black top, or a playground.
But being outside in those spaces is much different than being in the outdoors, deep in the woods or playing in a stream. Playing in the natural world, beyond the wood chips of playgrounds or turf of soccer fields, has a dramatic effect on children's physical, mental and emotional health as well as their ability to explore, create, and imagine. It is essential for healthy and balanced child development.
It is not as easy as it should be for our kids to play outdoors in nature. There are many types of barriers - time, access, perceived and actual risk, neighborhood safety, and/or the fact that Fortnite seems like the only thing your child wants to do. At Bearfoot OT, we are here to help connect your children to nature and help create the space for them to grow, experiment, play and learn in the beautiful natural spaces we have access to in the Bay Area.