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Tauranga Special School, Shine win Mitre 10’s community project grants

Hardware chain Mitre 10 said the community projects that won the $50,000 Helping Hands assistance are the Tauranga Special School’s sensory pathway to students and the Shine Emergency Shelter’s pet-friendly space. 

Three other community projects will each receive a $1000 Mitre 10 gift card to help them complete their makeovers: the Picton Girl Guides’ upgrade of its aluminium recycling bank; a temporary lifeguard tower for the New Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club; and a kitchen upgrade for Northland’s Food For Life.

In July, Mitre 10 called for nominations of community DIY projects across New Zealand that needed makeovers or a bit of a helping hand as part of its new Mitre 10 Helping Hands program and asked Kiwis to vote. The project attracted more than 250 entries.

The Tauranga Special School, which teaches students aged 5 to 21 with intellectual disabilities, physical or sensory impairments, or are on the autistic spectrum, wants to introduce a new sensory pathway that will provide a stimulating sensory experience with a variety of surfaces for wheelchairs to move over (wood, rocks set in concrete), tactile panels along the fence to reflect local stories and an outside sensory room with switches to activate sounds and a roof that lights up like the night sky. Teacher Jo Crean said the project will benefit students, their families and the wider community.

“The sensory pathway is unique and exciting because it gives viable options for multi-level learning,” Crean said. “Educationally, it reflects the current and ongoing needs of all our students and addresses their engagement levels in new and exciting ways.”

She said on weekends and during school holidays, the area will be open to students’ families and the many services who provide respite care across the Bay of Plenty. It will be a safe, stimulating destination for the families and care services.

Shine, a national domestic abuse charity centre which provides emergency accommodation for people fleeing violence in their homes, wants to provide a space for the pets of the people seeking refuge at the centre. Shine said it wants to convert its run-down shed on the property into kennels for dogs.

“Our clients say that their pets are an important part of the family, as well as their emotional support and many will stay in an unsafe situation because they cannot leave their pets behind,” said Shine’s acting GM Sally Ward. “This project means that they don’t have to.”

Jules Lloyd-Jones, Mitre 10’s chief of customer marketing and inspiration, said Mitre 10’s Helping Hands, which began at Mitre 10 Mega Nelson, is in sync with the spirit of the nation as this year continues to serve up challenges.

“As Kiwis, we tend to band together to support our communities and get things done,” Lloyd-Jones said. “As a co-operative spread from Kaitaia to Invercargill, Mitre 10’s locally owned stores do the same.”

She added that every year Mitre 10 stores support hundreds of community-based initiatives that help Kiwis love where they live, work and play.

“It’s all about supporting kiwis and their communities,” the company said.

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