A Mini Woolies supermarket has officially opened at The Woden School in Deakin to support the education of students with additional needs.
Designed to mimic the operations of an actual Woolworths supermarket on a smaller scale, the new mini shop is part of a unique program that will allow students to take part in an immersive educational experience and learn to operate a cash register, scan grocery items, handle money, process sales and interact with customers.
The Mini Woolies, called Woden Fresh Food, features baskets for customers to collect their items, shelving for groceries, ticketing and signage, and students will get to wear their own Woolworths uniform to fit the part.
Woden School principal James Malone said having an on-site mini Woolworths store would “provide authentic learning opportunities”.
“It will provide our students a comfortable environment to develop their social, work and life skills,” he said.
“We are excited for what it will bring to our students and their families.”
As The Woden School offers tailored educational programs for students in years 7 to 12 who have an intellectual disability, sensory, physical or behavioural needs, this hands-on experience will create an opportunity for the young adults to learn how a supermarket operates.
Woolworths director of group enablement transformation Tim Kelly said he was delighted to support The Woden School and its incredible work.
“The skills students will learn in their new mini Woolworths supermarket will equip them with the confidence and knowledge of retail operations in an exciting way, from the perspective of both a customer and a team member, and crucially build on the confidence to play each of those roles,” he said.
“Having seen first hand the success of our previous Mini Woolworths stores launched across the country, we look forward to seeing how the students gain independence and the skills from The Woden School.”
Speaking at the launch, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development Yvette Berry said the mini supermarket would provide the students at the school with valuable educational opportunities, hands-on learning and work experience.
“This program is a great addition to the high-quality education provided at The Woden School,” Ms Berry said.
Cooper Burton is one of the year 12 students at The Woden School who looks forward to being involved in the new Woden Fresh Food supermarket.
His mum, Dominique Burton, said she thought it was a great initiative from Woolworths, the school and the community.
“I think it’s great to encourage children to learn something outside of what they might normally learn in the classroom,” she said
“It’s a really positive thing, especially for Cooper … he will hopefully develop a bit more confidence in being around other people, and having conversations with other people, as it can take him a bit to warm up to people. Introducing other people into his life and into his environment will certainly assist in that.
“We’re very appreciative of everyone who’s put in the hard work and the investment behind such a great initiative that hopefully will continue for many, many years to come for the students at The Woden School.”
The new Mini Woolworths was brought to life over the last few weeks in partnership with Woolworths Technology Team, the Woolworths Construction team and Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand.
In the lead-up to the launch, staff members from the nearby Woden Woolworths supermarket helped students stock shelves and train them on how to use the registers.
The Woden School is now one of 15 mini-supermarkets of its kind around Australia and is the second one to be introduced in Canberra.
Black Mountain School launched the first mini supermarket, the BMS Fresh Food in the ACT last year, which was built in O’Connor.
Woolworths and Fujitsu are expanding the mini supermarket program and will introduce new sites in every state and territory in the next year.