If you see someone waving from a shop window in Runanga St, then wave back!
Chances are it is one of the young adults from Thrive who set up their sewing machine in the shop window so they can interact with people going past.
An offshoot of Taupō school ADDI (Advocating for Diversity, Difference and Inclusion), Thrive was set up in November last year and both are run by registered charitable trust Central Plateau Enrichment Academy. The aim is to offer meaningful work opportunities and a place to hang out for young disabled adults.
Thrive manager Jordan Griffin also works at ADDI and over the past nine years at ADDI he could see a need for a facility for graduates.
"Parents would say to me, 'what's going to happen to my kids when they finish school?'," said Jordan.
The young adults have diverse learning abilities and behavioural challenges and Jordan said without a place to go they often wound up hidden away in the community and not seen.
Thrive is a shop that sells things made by the young adults. Seasonal items relating to home heating are for sale at the moment including recycled paper turned into bricks to burn, homemade wax firelighters, and chopped bundles of kindling. Other items relate to the particular artistic interests of the young adults. There are pencil drawings and photographs, aprons and other sewn items.
Working as a teacher aide at ADDI has given Jordan the skills and insight into how these young adults can thrive.
Assisted by two others, Jordan says the idea is that people come into the shop and buy an item and then have a tour through the back of the shop to meet the young adults.
Jordan says the young adults have ownership of Thrive and also think of it as their sanctuary. He says they are always looking for volunteers, and asks people interested in spending a few hours a week at Thrive to get in touch with him.
With the music turned up and lots of laughter drifting out to the shop, the young adults were having a ball the day the Taupō & Tūrangi Weekender visited.
Donniece Goodwin was making firelighters and she also has a lawn mowing job. She says she likes travelling around and seeing new places when she does her lawn mowing work.
Cameron Henson spends time creating artwork and Matthew McCallum has been chopping kindling.
Jordan says the young adults like going out into the community and meeting other people. He takes them out for fun outings as well as transporting them to do their work.
"They need to see different people coming through so they get the interaction with the community," said Jordan.
He said lockdown was hard for the young adults and their parents. He said the young adults were confused about why they couldn't come to Thrive.
Jordan says they are fortunate to have a generous landlord in Cooper Family Investments who gave them the first six months rent free and only asked for half the rent through the Covid-19 lockdown.
Jordan says staff wages and building running costs all have to be paid for and says Thrive is looking for business sponsorship.
"We want to partner with a business that believes in what we are doing and invest. It's not just about paying the rent, it's about the right of disabled young adults to thrive," said Jordan.
Thrive is having an open day on July 18, from 10am. Come along to their shop at 41 Runanga St, shop in store and join in the fun. Face painting, kids activities, coffee cart, and sausage sizzle.
Contact Jordan Griffin for more information email email@example.com or telephone 376 5027.