Coles and a Sydney school are aiming to give students living with disabilities a work future

Coles has converted an old classroom into a real-life supermarket at a Sydney school for children living with disabilities.

At St Lucy’s School, principal David Raphael said he’s determined to give his primary and high school aged students a bright future and with some help from Coles, the supermarket experience is giving the children a promising pathway into the future.

“The students are here behind the counter learning the skills on how to transact, how to welcome, how to involve themselves in customer service,” Mr Raphael told A Current Affair.

Students shopping and working at the Coles supermarket at St Lucy’s School. (A Current Affair)
A Current Affair reporter Dimity Clancey and St Lucy’s School, Principal David Raphael. (A Current Affair)

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The experience gives classmates the chance to take part in helping each other learn some very important lessons.

“In terms of our young people to actually experience shopping but also work opportunities in the future and workplace employment, it’s really just absolutely life changing for our students,” Mr Raphael said.

Every step of the shopping trip is like the real thing.

A student shopping at the Coles supermarket at St Lucy’s School. (A Current Affair)
Katie Wyatt from Coles. (A Current Affair)

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Some students visit the supermarket to go shopping, while others fill staff roles which include operating the checkouts.

“I like it because I like scanning the items,” one student, Joshua, said.

Katie Wyatt from Coles said “everyone who wants a job should be able to have a job” and they’re aiming to make that possible.

Mother, Pauline. (A Current Affair)
Daddy, James. (A Current Affair)

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“I really want to focus on employing more people with disabilities by creating a recruitment process that is barrier-free,” Ms Wyatt said.

The store set up is also giving parents like Pauline and James hope.

“Joshua often laments that he has a disability, but I like to try and reframe it for him as, ‘you have a different ability’,” Joshua’s mother Pauline said.

“This is giving them that chance to get out there and be included in the community and for their skills and personalities to be seen and to be important,” Joshua’s dad James added.

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