Mini Market with Big Aims

A new mini market has opened at The Hills School in Northmead to support students with additional needs by giving them hands-on learning experiences.

The opening of Hills Fresh Food follows successful Mini Woolies sites at The Ponds School in The Ponds and Gabe Fresh Food at St Gabriels, Castle Hill.

Mathew and Neralie Want said their 11-yearold Ethan (pictured) just loved the experience saying he was a fun-loving and very curious kid.

“We can take him to the shops and do this with him to some extent, but we can’t give him the experiences for example of being able to work behind the registers or understand what it is to stock the shelves. Hopefully, it gives him an idea of where he can go after school with that,” said Matthew.

“Ethan is in Year six and I hope in this time he will get out of the program, some comfort of transacting in a real-world scenario – talking to someone behind a register or working with someone behind a register and build on the ability to create a habit of this is how you buy groceries and food.

“It’s important to be aware of sensory input so it’s great to see that he can practice this at school, where it’s quiet, less distractions and fewer loud noises. “

Neralie said: “It’s about Ethan being able to do what he wants in his own time too. He won’t feel rushed in this environment and he hasn’t got big queues behind him. He’s familiar with the school environment and now he gets to look at fruit and veg and get used to the different colours and smells in a place that is very familiar to him.”

The Hills School caters for the education needs of over 110 students aged 4 -18 years with a range of additional physical, intellectual and complex needs including sensory impairments.

The mini Woolworths store mimics the operations of an actual Woolworths supermarket, with baskets for fresh food, shelving for groceries, ticketing, signage and Woolworths branded uniforms the students can wear to create an immersive educational experience. Using a fully operational Fujitsu register, students learn to scan grocery items and handle money when they process sales.

Woolworths team members from the nearby Winston Hills supermarket have been helping students stock shelves and provide register training in readiness for the opening.

Mark Gosbell, The Hills School Principal said: “Having an on-site Mini Woolworths store will provide authentic learning opportunities.

“Students will be able to develop independent living skills, functional literacy and numeracy and have an additional learning space that encourages development of communication. We are excited for what it will bring to our students and their families.”

The new mini Woolworths at The Hills School is the 16th mini-supermarket of its kind.

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