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!

Jacobs Staff Update

Jacob’s Staff Update

It’s been a cold few weeks at AJs as winter well and truly rolls in, nevertheless the ship keeps moving forward. It’s been a very busy period, with all the different jobs coming in, not made any easier by all the colds and flu going around at this time a year.

I’m lucky enough to take a variety of activities and outings in the AJs workroom and out in the community over a weekly basis.

I have a pool group during the day on Monday, this is with Josh, Harley A, Hamish and Kevin. We previously went to the Woolston workingmen’s club for this but over the covid period they had closed, we are hoping to get back once they open. The afternoon consists of going out to Ferrymead golf, we alternate between a boy’s group and a girl’s group, we stop at countdown on the way for an afternoon tea bite usually consisting of a piece of fruit (Bananas are a crowd favourite).

Tuesdays are bowling day; There’s a pool of about twelve clients I take so they get to go every three weeks we walk down to garden city bowling after lunch. All the clients enjoy trying to beat me and they always are stoked when they get 100! Everyone is always so supportive when others get spares/strikes! (Except for when I get one!).

On Wednesdays I pick up the McDonalds for the clients with my top-notch helpers Harley B, Alecia and Kyle! They are in charge of carrying the boxes to the car and into AJs.

Every second Thursday I would take a group of clients down to St Albans community centre for a gaming group where we would meet up with a couple other schools/providers and play some board games together. This was all organised by Harley A, unfortunately, like the Woolston workingmen’s club they stopped having us due to covid, we are hoping to get back in the near future. In the meantime the guys that went every second week, now sort out a board game to play quietly in-between morning tea and lunch with each other in a corner of the workroom. In the afternoon every week we go to the Canterbury Table Tennis stadium. We normally take ten clients and play games of Polybat and Table Tennis.

Every second Friday we have the “Wise Guys” group. Ralph, Jimmy, John G and I go out for a browse around some shops and then park up at a café for a coffee. My last activity for the week is an active group with Laughie, Ben NF, Josh and Eddie when he feels like it. We use the cable machine at the back of the workshop. They have all their weights for different exercises on the wall next to them so they can track their progress and see the improvements they have made.

Caitlin – Staff Update

Caitlin’s Update

As I am coming to the end of my first year working at AJ’s everything has been busy with work and routines coming together. I am very happy to have graduated from being called ‘New girl’ by Jimmy Keeley (sorry Jacob) and be a regular in and about at AJ’s.

Most days I take one on one FOCUS activities with clients varying what we do depending on their individual interest and goals. On Monday’s the “J’s” are the most consistent with Joe, Jack and Joseph going every week. Joe M has been working on upper body strength focusing mainly on boxing and push-ups. Jack and I stretch in the workshop and Joseph walks with me whenever the weather fine. In the afternoon I take a Pool group mainly consisting of Eddy, Lewis, Sam and Nick T. Recently we have been doing this at the Pool table of AJ’s so the whole workshop gets to hear us make foul calls at each other.

On Tuesdays I spend the morning in the workshop and the afternoon out for a walk with Paul Maylam.  Our highlight walk so far has been going to Alice’s DVD store with room and rooms full of DVD’s.

Working through the selection of day walks around Christchurch has been a focus of my Wednesday active group.  Matt K, Ben M and Nick F were happy to get to see the new footbridges along the Te Ara Ōtākaro Avon River Trail last week after getting rained on halfway the week before. Harley B and I consistently exercise on a Wednesday afternoon with walking being our most regular activity. We are quite well known around the local area for stopping and having a chat or a look around what Philipstown has to offer.

Thursday Morning means Timezone for Chris and I. We take an additional 2 clients with us (Kyle, Jack, Simon, Georgia, Josh and Anthony). While Chris plays mostly racing games, the rest of us explore all the games on offer. Dancing with the ladies is my first Thursday afternoon activity. Laureen, Georgia, Sophie and I listen to our favourite music (mostly ABBA) and have a boogie for about 30mins. Georgia knows all the lyrics and sings along quietly, whereas the rest of us are loud and sing along with whatever words we feel. After this Helen and I work-out together. Recently we have been walking past the dog day-care near us so we can see the dogs out for their daily walks.

On Fridays I do FOCUS with Craig B in the morning, we walk to different places and take the bus back to AJ’s. Craig really enjoys taking the bus and exploring all the sites Chch has to offer.  Every other week I take John N out to find the best Café in walking distance. When we get to the Café, John uses his book to keep me up to date on all the topics on the news. In the Afternoon Harrison and I do exercise together. Recently we have been practicing Frisbee throws together.

25 years of AJs

25 years of AJs

The following is a bit of a story AJs. There are no names mentioned in this story as due to there being so many people and all of them have had some influence on what AJs is.

Over 25 years ago 30 of us who were involved with Templeton Centre decided we would like to accept the challenge of being more involved in our local Christchurch community.

I had the opportunity to set up AJ’s Day Options as a Charitable trust with the support of my wife.

The 25 people who lived at Templeton allowed me to be involved in discussing with their families to get their support for what we wanted to do. After some interesting discussions the 30 of us (25 who lived at Templeton and 5 of us you came in during the day) had the support of the people we needed to start up AJs.

Although 25 May 1997 is our official anniversary the first day, we opened at 426 Taum St was 1 April 1997.

The initial goal for all 30 of us was to help each other to enjoy the opportunities that being in the community would offer us.

Some of the group were not aware of exactly what opportunities were on offer as they had not had a chance to spend a lot of time in the community. So as a group we decided it would be a good idea if the people who were aware of what was on offer made a list of the activities and over a period of time small groups would go and try them out so that everyone could then be able to make a choice on the type of activities they may like to be involved in over a longer time period.

While getting out and about was important the group also needed something to do while they were at the base at 426 Taum St. Most of the group from Templeton Centre were involved in the industries unit during the day, where they were doing jobs such as assembling small components. AJs was lucky that some of the same businesses were able to also give us some of the same type of work to do.

Over the next year, as Templeton Centre slowly closed and people started to move into homes within the community the number of people coming to AJs increased. AJs was one of several different places that people could choose to go to. One of the great things in those early years was how all-day services talked with each other and we all offered slightly different things so that the people had a good variety of options to choose from to met their hopes and wishes.

Over the next few years, AJs was funded to support people who had left Templeton. We all worked hard at supporting each other to make the most of the opportunities we had. Small groups (3 to 4) of us joined a variety of activities such as gentle exercise groups run by the CCC community centres, going to the local driving range, playing pool at the local working men’s club, attending the CCC sensory room, joining the local community walking group, etc.

At the same time as were expanding our community activities, we were also getting a name for ourselves with some of the local businesses. We started to get a variety of new jobs to do. This was great as it gave us a chance to develop our work skills and also brought in more money to help cover the costs of the community activities, we were all doing.

For a while we also supported a few of the guys who were keen to work part time in mainstream employment. The people involved all received the appropriate wage while working. Over time, there became a few services that specialized in supported employment so we decided that we would suggest people that wanted a job to contact one of these services.

As the years moved on, so did some of our original group due to things such as retirement or just deciding to give something else a go. At the same time we were also starting to get some interest from some young school leavers who wanted to visit AJs, to see if it was somewhere they might want to go once they leave school.

The whole group at AJs had a talk about the students and we all decided it might be good to have some young people around and we were keen to help support them during their transition.

The first few students seemed to enjoy the relaxed environment at AJs, and we all felt the enthusiasm from the students had a positive effect on all of us.

Having the students at AJs also go some of us talking about other ways we may be able to help the students during the Transition.

One of the ideas that came up was the RISK (Recreation Inspires Strength and Knowledge) programme that has now been running for over 8 years (apart from effects due to covid). This programme works with 6-8 students and people from AJs who use outdoor recreational activities to help the students develop their confidence and teamwork which are all important things they will need in the future.

In the last couple of years, the AJs group has evolved with a good mix of young people and some of the originals. We have been lucky that with the younger school leavers coming, we have also been able to have some other young ones who have started and have the label of “support staff’.

The arrival of the young ones has ensured that AJs continues to move with the times. There has been a shift in the types of activities we now have groups involved in activities such as, timezone, polybat and table tennis and T ball. The younger group has also encouraged the importance of being active and healthy with a large number of AJs both young and old all doing some sort of exercise while at AJs.

As an original it is really interesting listening during lunchtime to all the young ones talking about what they saw on Facebook or the latest device they have. Its also interesting to see some of our so-called older group showing a real interest in what the young ones are doing and wanting to have a go.

Over the 25 years we have seen lots of changes in the activities we do, and the jobs we do at AJs and in the people who are now part of AJs.

However, even with all the changes I am proud that AJs still remains having as its main goal, “That we all support each other to make the most of opportunities that we have”, or I guess the new term is “live a good life”

I feel it is important that I thank 2 of the groups of people that have helped AJs be the supportive environment it is.

The first group is the people that have chosen to come to AJs and put the effort into helping their mates and themselves to make the most of their time at AJs

The second group are the people who come to AJs with the label “support staff” as they put so much effort into making sure that everyone at AJs is given the chance to be themselves and encouraged to make the most of their time at AJs

Jim (An AJs original)

There is a video on our Facebook page celebrating 25 years:

Paula’s Farewell – Staff Update

Paula’s Farewell – Staff Update

Time to move on.

On Thursday the 24th of February I will be working my last day at AJ’s, I am moving on to Special Olympics NZ where I will be the Regional Sports Co-Ordinator of the Upper South Island. This means I will see many people from AJ’s around at different Special Olympics events.

AJ’s has been a large part of my life; I was here 25 years ago when it all began. Then after a few trips overseas and living in the UK for 15 years, I have been back again for four years this time, it has been great and worked perfectly with my young family.

I will miss the vibrancy of AJ’s; the new young clients, who are school leavers, really bring a new lease of life to the unit. There are a lot of opportunities for clients to get stuck in and live their best AJ’s life.

I have fond memories of catching the bus from Templeton in the early days and everyone buzzing about their new lives in the “community”.  Supporting people to go on the escalator, who had never been on one before, teaching independent busing skills and drinks at the pub on a Friday afternoon with Jimmy Connors were all part of the early days at AJ’s.

I love the way AJ’s is progressing with the young clients and moving with them to create opportunities doing many different activities. Getting people ‘moving more than before’ with 1-1 sessions and small groups has really got most people involved.

To all the staff, keep being awesome and supporting people to thrive and look out for each other.

Jim, you are like a brother to me, thanks for always taking me on, I will always be the boomerang of AJ’s. Calling from Singapore Airport and when seven months pregnant back from the UK, asking if there was any chance of a job at AJ’s…you always said “yes” thank you for that.  Allowing me to follow my dream and play cricket for my country, back in the late 90’s early 2000’s. I was one of the lucky ones with a supportive boss at the time.

I wish AJ’s all the best; I will pop back and have the odd lunch catch up.

I am looking forward to the challenges in my new job, stepping out of my comfort zone and having to use my initiative and learn as I go along.

Julia-Grace – Staff Update

Julia-Grace – Staff Update

First few weeks back at AJS and getting used to red level.

Everyone has been getting back into the swing of things and working well. Everyone seems pleased that community activities can go ahead during red level as long as they have a vaccine pass.

The activities I support.

The bowling group on Monday now has a permanent booking for Mondays. Ayden has been very curious about the booster shot and likes asking the ask the staff there about how they found it. Everyone gets very excited when some gets strike or a spare.

The one on one Taekwondo exercises have also stared back slowly with some. They seem to love doing a ki-hap (Korean word which translates to ‘yell’) on every tenth punch or block.

On Wednesday activities have been back on. Jack, Alecia and Lyric have been planning what activities they would like to try a do this year in their pairs. Last year we had done things like going the museum, cafes, playing board games, a tie-dye project and various other things.

The fitness session on Friday are also back on. We’ve been working on goal setting as well as working out which types of exercise they would like to do so there some variation for them. Clelemnt loves to use the rowing machine as he races along iron man until the timer goes off. Jeff would like to be the next Joseph Parker. While Hamish just likes to beat me in which fitness related game we choose to play.

Overall it has been great to back and it is awesome to have people back.