Margaret’s Staff Update

Margaret’s Staff Update:

Hi everyone,

This is my first update I’ve done since I’ve gone into semi-retirement: reducing my hours to just Fridays. This will drastically reduce how much I have to say. Not entirely a bad thing.

Friday mornings I alternate between going to the garden and the Southern Centre.

I’ll start with Garden Group; this year has seen a lot of changes for our gardening group. Not only have our seasoned gardeners: Simon, Alan, Beth, Craig, Matt, Harley, Clement & Helen been joined by newbies: Cara & Te Hia Hia but after 12 years at the Community Gardens in Smith Street, restructuring has now meant that we have had to move! We were lucky enough to be welcomed into the Linwood Resource Centre Gardens, where we have been given two raised plots and have had to effectively start again with the weeding, digging, and planning of what to grow.  We also now have plenty of experienced gardeners at the centre to get advice from; not to mention muffins, scones, gumboots, and jackets; but the favourite addition must be the chickens that everyone takes turns feeding and talking to. We have also been fortunate to have Mike join our gardening team, which means we are now able to go weekly rather than fortnightly and have made a great start to our spring garden. The gardeners have worked very hard preparing the garden and planting broccoli, cabbages, peas, potatoes, bok choy, and with the addition of the transplanted strawberries from our old garden, we have made a great start. Mention must be made to Brendan for the bok choy seedlings and Jacob for the wonderful seeding trolley he built at AJ’s, which produced the broccoli cabbages and peas. It was a bit of a team effort with many non-gardeners getting involved with the watering and wheeling the trolley out in the sun each day. So, it’s fair to say we have made a great start on our garden this spring!

My other activity, on alternate Friday mornings, is the Southern Centre sensory room. This amazing room continues to inspire creativity in everyone who enters it. Craig S has now ventured from chilling on the gel bed to playing the drums and moving coloured lights around the room. Clement loves to sit in the UV room colouring in his Paw Patrol prints. Alan S grabs a microphone and sings with his favourite bands… while sometimes jumping on the mini trampoline. Simon & Elizabeth both enjoy doing a circuit of the room checking out all that’s on offer – especially the odoriferous smells in the aromas centre. Beth loves the coloured lights while Cara & Michelle, newcomers to the room are content to watch & listen. We usually finish off with morning tea downstairs, at Plunge Café.

On Friday afternoons you will always find many of us having far too much fun in the lounge doing our own version of what could very loosely be described as yoga. While l was away earlier in the year, Alan & Simon filled in for me and from all accounts did a fantastic job.  We always finish with a great walk around the block to ease us into the weekend.

Mike’s – Staff Update

Mike’s – Staff Update

My name is Mike, and after starting at AJ’s in January I have now been there a little over 8 months – how time flies! As Lynne started a week before me, I am technically the newest staff member, though thankfully Jimmy K still calls Jacob the “newboy”.

Being a fairly quiet and introverted person by nature, my first few months at AJ’s were a bit of a culture shock with the noise and busyness of the workroom, but I feel like I am getting used to this and I certainly really enjoy the contact with the clients. The workroom has been ticking along well of late, with several large contracts recently completed, including a large Christmas cards contract and the Starters and Strategies magazine contract. I love how the workroom provides a number of different tasks for people at a variety of different levels and abilities.

With various staff away over the last few months I’ve filled in for most groups and outings, and really enjoy this part of the job. Being more elderly than most of the staff I have picked up the “Wise Guys” group (or as some of the staff call it the “pensioners group”), which I am really enjoying. This comprises 3 older clients and we go out on a Friday afternoon once a fortnight, alternating a visit to the Penny Lane record shop with a visit to one of the malls for a look around and then afternoon tea. It’s a great way to finish the week. I have also picked up a Climbing group on Tuesday afternoons, for a while co-working with Bronte but more recently on my own. Having never done any climbing before this has been a good learning experience for me. I have really enjoyed watching the clients get more confident and a bit higher up the wall each week, and I’m sure this increased confidence generalises to other aspects of their lives.

After filling in for Margaret’s gardening group while she was away, I have now taken this on every second Friday morning, alternating with Margaret. Again, having very little gardening skill or knowledge I have had to learn as I go, but for the most-part I’m enjoying it.

I do a weekly FOCUS session with Harley B on Wednesday afternoon. We often go for a walk and visit local op-shops for a look around, but other activities have included doing a rubbish pickup in the local area, and going for a Lime scooter ride. I enjoy getting out and about and chatting with Harley one-to-one.

I also regularly support the Polybat (winter) and T-ball (summer) groups on Thursday afternoons. This is a large group of usually 10 clients, with 3 staff. The clients seem to really love these activities and there is always lots of banter and laughs!

Well, it’s now almost mid spring, and it’s hard to believe we are starting to talk about Christmas already! That’s all from me, thanks for reading.

Lynne’s Staff Update

Lynne’s Staff Update

Hi, I Have been working at AJs for four months now, during this time I have been enjoying getting to know everybody and learning how AJ’s runs.

Time at AJ’s has been flying by, the workroom has been bustling, with many people involved with work contracts from local businesses. It’s been an eyeopener to see how everybody (staff and clients) chip in and contribute to what needs to be done to get a job to completion. I often witness satisfied faces as people master jobs they haven’t done before (such as the recent Pro-Kiwi Jacket job) and do favourite jobs that they love (such as the paper for Orana Park and the Aucom job). As a new kid on the block it has been inspiring to witness the teamwork and camaraderie that occurs at AJs.

I feel lucky as I get to take the Wednesday walking group. Each Wednesday Matthew K, Nick F and Harley A and I set off for a dopamine enhancing walk to increase our fitness and hopefully catch some sunshine. In keeping with our fitness goal, we have a healthy option fruit morning tea (on colder/drizzly days we have opted for a hot chocolate). We go on a variety of different walks around Christchurch such as the Harry Elle Track, Travis Wetlands, Hagley Park, river walks, and city Street Walks.  All the guys are great company Matthew usually leads the charge; he sets a cracking pace for the rest of us to follow. Harley and Nick like to speak to dog owners to encourage them to give their dogs a treat and thank road maintenance workers for all their hard work, often eliciting smiles and conversation and Nick is great company keeping us up to date with his latest holidays.  When the weather has been too nasty to go for a walk, we have been able to go to Mega Air Trampoline Centre where we bounce, shoot hoops (good slam-dunks), play Dodgeball, and follow the leader. Matthew has demonstrated his foot juggling skills.

On Thursdays I take the TimeZone group.  Chris and I go every week and each week we are joined by two others on a rotating cycle from Anthony, Georgia, Jack, Josh, Kyle and Nick T, Paul R and Simon. We try out a variety of cafés for morning tea and so far, the guys have indicated that they have enjoyed all of them. Recently we have tried cafes close to AJ’s such as the Daily Latte and Tea Room on Stanmore Road, and Under the Red Veranda. At Time Zone the aim is to have fun (and they definitely do !!!) as there are over 100 games to choose from and everybody approaches this differently, with some eager to try what’s new. Chris loves to play the racing games like Daytona and Mario Kart  and The Big Sweet Candy Pusher, Jack loves the drumming game, Nick T enjoys shooting bottles, the new Nerf Arcade and NBA Hoops basketball, Georgia loves shooting the dinosaurs and driving games, Simon and Josh both enjoy shooting the dinosaurs with water guns  and the 10-pin bowling game, Kyle and Paul R enjoy a variety of games preferring the classic arcade type games like down the clown and bean bag toss.

On Thursday afternoons I have supported the T-Ball team (the AJ team didn’t quite make it to the finals this year but they really enjoyed themselves anyway ) and more recently with the end of the T-Ball season we (10 players and 3 supporters ) have changed to Poly-bat and table tennis.

Julia-Grace Staff Update

Julia-Grace Staff Update

Hi everyone,

Hope everyone is doing well despite the bugs going round and covid having a bit of a surge again in Christchurch.

During the week I do a few FOCUS sessions, with the FOCUS program we do with the guys I do a few one-on-one sessions. The primary goals are normally fitness related.

On a Tuesday Kaine enjoys going for a walk past the motorbike shop and catching the bus back. Also, on Tuesday Joseph likes to go on a fast-paced walk when the weather is good. Then after that Jack does his set leg exercises but then likes to finish doing some weights exercises.  On Thursday afternoons Helen likes to smash out some boxing exercises, and after that Laureen, Sophie and sometimes Georgia like to do some dancing to some of their favourite from ABBA songs. Finally on Fridays Hamish and Jeff like to play the cup game against me, which is a twisted version of beer pong with no alcohol but instead when someone gets the ping-pong ball in the cup, we do various boxing exercises or throws with the vortex. Following that Clement likes to do some rowing and Matthew B does some throwing exercises with a miniature rugby ball.

Another fitness activity I do with some of the guys is two times a week I do some one-on-one Taekwondo sessions. Biddy, Anthony, Daniel, Harrison, Te Hia Hia and Callum have chosen to take this up. Harrison and Anthony really seem to enjoy the pad work and some of the basic self-defence moves we have started to learn. Biddy, Te Hia Hia and Daniel however seem to favor learning the pattern more. The pattern they are learning is Taeguek 1 of Taekwondo and it puts a lot of the fundamental moves of Taekwondo in a sequence together. They are all doing very well with learning this.

On a Monday I take a small group bowling that has two regulars with Ayden and Ross.  The others who rotate through monthly are Laurel, Hamish and Kyle. Some people who also come occasionally as fill-ins are Daniel, Harrison, Harley A and Eddy. They are all pretty good sports about who wins, but there definitely seems to be some enjoyment from them all beating me, and some definite love for the curly fries they get as a morning tea snack.

On a Wednesday I take two groups out in the afternoon, that alternate every other week, one week it’s the boys – Jack, Daniel and Harrison, and the other week it is the girls – Lyric and Alecia. These are themed outings so the people in the group get decided what they want to do as their outing. The boys currently have chosen to spend their outings mainly working on a movie project, they are the stars of the film and Jack and Daniel came up with story. The girls like a bit more variety, they have chosen to go to the café, tie-dye shirts, make bracelets, go to Timezone and so on. Recently though both groups decided they would like to go and check out the street art exhibition at museum before it closes for a while. They all seemed to enjoy it and like following the maps they gave us as we went through.

Bronte’s Staff Update:

Bronte’s Staff Update:

Kia Ora, I’m Bronte and I have been lucky enough to join the AJs family over the summer.

I am in my final year studying sustainability and outdoor education at Ara and first started working with AJs for my adventure therapy paper, where I designed a programme for a small group from AJs to head into the outdoors once a week for five weeks. We went to the beach for some activity-based learning, walking, rock climbing, high ropes, and picnicking. Over this time, we worked on personal and team goals such as developing teamwork, confidence, fitness, and communication. We saw a lot of progress and had heaps of fun over the course of the programme, and I was then given the opportunity to work at AJs during my uni break.

I became the helping hand in the workroom and after learning the ropes and getting to know everyone, I was settled and loving my time at AJs. It was a busy time of year with lots of different jobs and despite the excitement of Christmas coming up, everyone worked hard and got lots done before the break. I also got to fill in on some outings such as T-ball and bowling which was a great way to connect with the clients outside of the workroom and support them in different ways. Now we’re back into the swing of things and we have been making trips to see the buskers and working hard for my last few weeks before starting back at uni.

I now look forward to continuing a very similar program that I did last semester with the clients and taking them into the outdoors and on pursuits throughout this year starting with rock climbing. I hope to continue developing connections and working on goals that the clients set.

A big thank you to everyone at AJs for being so welcoming and so full of life.

Welcome back everyone!

Welcome back everyone!

Hope everyone has had a good holiday break, and welcome back to AJs everyone! It’s good to see everyone slowly coming back in and hearing all their Christmas and holiday stories.

Unfortunately for us, one of the staff members – Caitlin – has left us, and has moved onto a new job in Auckland. She will be missed and are wishing her all the best with her new job.

Though we have had some new staff members, Lynne and Mike join us in this new year. They have both been inundated with lots of new information about how AJs works, as well as getting to know everyone here.

Matt’s Staff Update:

Matt’s Staff Update

My turn again for an update. I finally got hit by covid, but was lucky it wasn’t too bad for me. There’s some in the Monday Film Group who said they haven’t had it yet. Hopefully they manage to avoid it totally. We’ve been trying to do a number of different film related projects over the last wee while since things have been a little different. We’ve been working on a camera rig lately, called a steadicam, to help the guys with using the camera, and also help with different camera angles too. Another project we’ve been doing is looking at video effects, and camera filming tricks to get some cool shots. We’ll get back into our main project soon once we’ve finished with these side projects, but will replan some parts, which Nick F, Sam T, Lewis, Cam H, Ben M, and Eddie are keen to do.

Monday afternoons have been a little nicer lately with the weather getting warmer. Going for walks with Matt K have been good, even if trying to keep up with his break-neck speed can be fun. It does mean though, that we can get a good distance walk in. Generally doing about 8kms on Monday afternoons.

Tuesdays I’m currently in the unit as we haven’t been doing RISK. I’ve really enjoyed being in the workroom with the guys and churning through the different jobs that come in. Having a chance to have a good laugh with some, and catch up with what some others have been up to.

Then on Wednesday I’m back out again, going to the Sensory room in the morning. Joe and Murdoch are still the regulars every week, with Kaine and Oscar now alternating for the third spot. Not having to wear face masks in the Pioneer Centre anymore, has been a great relief to the guys. Trying to remember them, and then not lose them, is one less hassle it’s good to live without.

Thursday mornings I’m back in the unit on the workroom floor before heading out in the afternoon for polybat. It’s our over-winter, Thursday sport activity, and is a modified version of Table Tennis. We also get in some table tennis as well. We’ve had a huge variety of skills coming along, as the group can be quite different each week. We do have a few permanents with, Matt K, Ross, and Ayden, and then our regulars with, Anthony, Hamish, Paul Mc, Paul Roberts, Kyle, Jack, Biddy, and Callum. On occasion we’ve had TeHiaHia, Sophie, Nick F, and Sam T, as well as others, that will also go as they choose.

Then to end the week, the Young Guys group are still doing their outings on Friday mornings. For most of the year we’ve been doing the AJs shopping every second week. It’s been a good chance to help the guys with shopping skills, and how to look for good deals. As well as, helping us with healthier morning tea options, as we get some fresh fruit and a healthy drink. As with many of the activities this year, there have been interruptions to who has been coming. Sam T, Harley B, and Nick F are the main group. As needed, they’ve invited Harrison, Clement, Harley A, Ben N/F, Stephen, Eddie, and others, join as well. Some have been lucky enough to score our big end of month outing, where we do something as a special activity, like Laser Strike etc. Then finally on Friday afternoons, I’m in the unit, keeping an eye on things, and making sure it runs like a well-oiled machine.

Mary’s Staff Update

Mary – Staff Update

Hi all

We have been waiting for the warmer weather to arrive and thankfully it is now just around the corner.  I hope everyone has got through Covid unscathed and look forward to life going back to normal…or maybe a form of new normal.  Everyone at AJs has been amazing throughout this time – the clients have adhered to all the rules with ease thanks to the support from their families and carers.

The Candlemaker @ AJs has been very busy with school orders coming in and the many regular customer orders we get – we have also had quite a few new customers this year. 

Kevin has been working hard pouring the candles and preparing them for decoration.  He loves to help out and is very kind to the other workers in the candle room…especially to us ‘little old grey-haired ladies’.

Alecia always comes in with a smile on her face and a big “hi”.  We always have a bit of a chat about her week before she gets to work.  Once a month Alecia, John G and I walk down to Vivace for morning tea – Alecia and I enjoy a hot chocolate and John says they make the best iced coffees!

Biddy likes to check to see if she is on the Polybat list to play in the afternoon before she comes in…this lets me know how much work I need to have out for her. She is independent in her work and leaves the vat room clean and tidy.

Michelle and Sharon enjoy coming into the candle room together to work on workshop jobs.  They obviously feel more confident and comfortable now as on arrival Michelle will always look over my shoulder to read my list of orders and comments on future dates on the calendar.  It’s wonderful to hear Sharon’s conversation extend as she answers my questions and her sense of humour show through.

Every chance Laureen gets, she will ask me if she is coming in to the candle room on Friday.  She comes in with such a level of excitement it makes me smile.  She chats away and enjoys a good laugh…you can’t help laughing along with her.

Annie has returned to AJs at last, albeit only on Fridays.  I have missed her and she loves to remind me she is only here for one day!

Sadly, Maggie has now retired from AJs – we miss her and wish her all the very best and hope she enjoys her new relaxing routine. 

The workroom has been busy with the usual contracts from Fulton Hogan, Modular, Aucom, Every Educaid and printing firms Inkwise, Spectrum Print, Caxton Print and Skyline Folders.  Jim has just taken his annual holiday and I helped out with some rush printing jobs.  It was fun working with all the team and I certainly had a substantial increase in the steps on my Smartwatch by the end of the day!

We have had quite a few birthdays celebrated lately and some very tasty treats arrived to share.  We also have some lovely neighbours (Ambience Tiling) who occasionally share some yummy cakes and slices they have with us.  These are a very tempting snack for morning tea but not so good for the waistline!

Simon’s Mum (Linda, thank you) brought in several boxes filled with bags of RITZ Cracker Bites to share out to everyone – we all got a bag each and it was noticed that some of the clients had decided not to take them home but eat the whole bag themselves…what a treat for them and a big smile spread over their faces when we asked them about it!  There was enough to hand out a second bag each…yes, we encouraged them to take them home this time!

We have already heard the word ‘Christmas’ floating around the workroom and as much as we try to avoid it, we know it’s looming.  Personally, I am a big fan of Christmas and look forward to the barrage of Christmas carols and the decorations put up.  It is the youngest staff who enlists the help of a number of clients to decorate AJs – Jacob is responsible at the moment and when we mention it, he will often ask that we get someone younger when we employ more staff!  I am one of those annoying people that gets organised early…yes, I have written out my gift list and purchased a number of presents already!  Take care everyone and happy Christmas shopping whenever you start.

Angela Staff Update

Angela Staff Update

It’s mid-August and spring has sprung. The mood within AJs is happy one and there is a buzz in the air.

With the worst of the sickness behind us, it feels like a “full house” at AJs.  This term we welcomed back students from high schools who come to AJs for work experience. Along with visitors who have dropped in.

Recently we have been busy in the workroom with various printing jobs. These have involved the placing of inserts, folding, bagging, labelling, collating and counting.

We have also been assembling jobs which involve nuts screws and signage.

As well as processing newspaper, which involves separating, folding and shredding ready to be delivered to Orana Park.

Jim is a dab hand at creating jigs enabling everyone to try their hand at various jobs, so there is always something to everyone.

Tuesday morning Allan, Jimmy, Hayden and recently Te Hia Hia visit a library to choose DVDs to play within the workroom, or in Allan’s case watch at home. This outing is a relaxed social break from the busy workroom, and always incorporates morning tea somewhere, which everyone looks forward to.

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the daily goings on of AJ’s we have some dedicated people who step up tot the tasks of morning tea and lunch clean up. This involves rinsing dishes, loading the dishwasher, unloading it, wiping the dining room tables and at lunch time vacuuming the dining room floor. The chores are shared by many, some are regulars on the roster who have designated days, Cameron, Ralph, Laureen, Hayden, Ben N-F, Angelique, Kevin, Craig, Georgia, and Stephen. Then there are people who willingly fill-in when required, Bethany, Sarah P, Gina, Paul R, Josh, Clement, Harrison and Laughie.

Cameron M is responsible for emptying the rubbish bins on Tuesdays, then getting the wheelie bins ready for the collection the following morning.

Friday Craig and Kevin sweep the entire workroom, which Kevin proceeds to mop, ready for the following Monday.

Tania Staff Update

Tania Staff Update

On a Monday and Tuesday morning there is always a lot of fun going on in our Timezone groups. As soon as seatbelts are clicked Mark and Clement transform into serious street racers. “No brakes – Just gas!” Their competitive excitement often draws in onlookers, which these two love. Helen makes ten-pin bowling look easy with her terrific strike rate, and Cara’s hit-rate on games is the envy of many. Cameron M nearly holds his breath with anticipation through the entire game of ‘Deal or No Deal’. Then before we leave, there’s always a three-person motorbike race, with our standout riders so far being Alecia, Mark, and Harley B.

Wednesday mornings we’re off to Orana Park, where Te Ramanui is in charge of delivering our shredded paper for animal bedding. Lions, tigers, and gorillas are the most requested animals to walk to, as well as watching the growth of the baby giraffe. For some curious reason, whenever John G. or Hamish visit, we seem to see interesting activity from the gibbons, lemurs, and gorillas (our animals whisperers?!) Every fortnight Craig B. likes to ride the shuttle. We have gotten to know the drivers and get to find out about any animal births/deaths and the goings on of the park.

On Wednesday afternoons Mark still takes pride in keeping the AJs cars clean. Each Wednesday afternoon, Ian P. and Murdoch come along for a drive through the carwash. Then we take it back to AJs, where Mark vacuums and polishes the interior. He does a great job!

Thursday mornings is the Sensory Room, where each person seems to have their favourite activities: Callum loves lying under the weighted blanket with hand puppets; John G likes singing with the microphone; Stu carefully chooses the best CD’s; Anthony loves the pin art frame; Kyle plays on the drum kit while looking in the mirror; Josh enjoys sorting through the bags of tactile goodies; Georgia always sniffs the scents on the smell machine; and Jack enjoys making shapes in the kinetic sand. Everyone feels comfortable there and it’s great seeing them feel free to move around independently and explore the entire room and it’s activities.

We finish off all of our morning activities with morning tea at a café of the group’s choice, where all enjoy having a laugh and a catch-up.

Keep warm and well everyone. Roll-on Spring!