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  • Heather Pawelkiewicz

Meet the Our First Year Team

Babies certainly require a lot of care when they are first born. They need to be fed, bathed, changed (more times than you care to count), and put to bed. But what about play? When does that occur? How often should I play with them? What toys are the best for baby? The Our First Year team has taken out the guesswork and has chosen 8 developmentally-appropriate toys to get you through your baby’s first year of life. In addition to the toys, the professionals at Our First Year have included a welcome letter that highlights development and an activity card for each toy. The activity cards were developed by the Our First Year team (a Speech-Language Pathologist, Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Doctor of Occupational Therapy) to maximize your child’s developmental potential and enhance playtime with your baby. All of the toys and Our First Year products are housed in a crimson-colored backpack, so you can work on your baby’s

development wherever you go.


Babies learn about people and their environment through play. This is something that you should engage them in from birth. There are endless opportunities to play with your baby throughout the day; during mealtimes, bath, tummy-time, nighttime ritual, and even while you are standing in line at the grocery store. Remember, YOU are your baby’s favorite toy. Your baby just cannot get enough of your voice and facial expressions. Narrate your day for baby and you will find their engagement increasing by the minute. They are learning inflection, intonation, vocabulary and the turn-taking that is so important for successful conversations in the future.

The Our First Year team is “bringing back the basics” with the toys we have hand-selected. We have stayed away from screens and batteries. All 8 toys require engagement with your baby. Babies do not actively learn from watching television or swiping at a smart phone. The toys in the OFY backpack promote fine/gross motor skills and language/social skills – these truly are “toys with a purpose.”


To find out more about the Our First Year Company and to purchase one of our backpacks or toddler totes, please visit our website at www.ourfirstyear1.com. Child development…it’s all in the bag!


About the Our First Year team:

Heather Pawelkiewicz: In addition to a Master’s in Science Communications and Disorders from the University of Florida (Go, Gators!), Heather also holds a Master’s in French Linguistics. She has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist over a variety of settings (private practice, hospital, outpatient, school) for 14 years. When Heather is not writing blogs for Our First Year or treating students at the local elementary school, you can find her working on her historical/fantasy novel, reading, cooking, playing board games, hiking, and traveling with her high school sweetheart, 11-year old son and 10-year old daughter.


Donna Woodworth: Donna is a Physical Therapist with over 38 years in the field. She holds a Bachelor’s in Physical Therapy and a Master’s in Exercise Science. After her youngest son entered college, Donna went to school herself and obtained a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from A.T. Stills University. Donna’s experience includes working with people across the lifespan; however, when her children were young she started to work in the local elementary school to maximize her time with her two boys. To this day, Donna continues to work in the public school setting with the special needs population from age 3-22 years old. Donna is an avid exerciser who likes to hike with her husband and two adult sons.


Hollie Hendershot: Hollie is an Occupational Therapist with 18 years of experience. She holds a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy and a Bachelor’s of Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia. She attended UGA for her undergraduate study (Go, Dawgs!). Hollie has experience across the pediatric continuum including outpatient rehab, early intervention, home visits, and the schools. Additionally, she owns Foundations Therapy, a contract company. Most recently, Hollie has started branching out and lecturing at a local college. Hollie enjoys time with her husband, son, and two daughters. As a family, they enjoy hiking, playing games/cards, and sports. Hollie loves sports and enjoys watching and playing them. She spends her leisure time reading, exercising/running, and watching her kids grow.

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Atlanta, Georgia, United States

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