HELL Newlands is one of Active in HELL’s (AiH) biggest supporters and Tai Rose is its latest graduate. Under the mentorship of Liuanna siblings Ranie, Josh and Matt, who manage the store as a trio, he has flourished and learned skills that brought him closer to those he loves.
The store has plans to employ one AiH trainee every day of the week and has already seen several young people complete training programs under the guidance of the Liuanna’s.
Active in HELL is a partnership between HELL Pizza and IHC New Zealand to get young people with intellectual disabilities into paid training in HELL stores around the country. Running since 2013, the initiative has seen more than 150 young Kiwis graduate with newfound skills and life experience.
Tai is a happy-go-lucky, eternally optimistic lad with a grin as wide as a Cheshire cat. When he left HELL Newlands in Wellington after his final shift, Ranie says he departed with more confidence, improved communication skills – and an even bigger smile than usual.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to have him. Tai took to the training really well – he asked questions if he wasn’t sure, he got amongst it and it was awesome for us because we learned how to improve our communication skills, and so did he – we loved seeing that. If we could have hired him, we would have.”
There’s was never a sullen moment when he’s around – songs from Abba, Jersey Boys, Stevie Wonder and the Beatles have been the soundtrack to his 12 weeks in Newlands.
“I like to hang out with people at work, sing songs. I love it here, I’ve learned how to do more things for myself. The first time I needed help but not anymore and I really liked getting paid, having fun and getting work experience,” Tai says.
Tai’s responsibilities involved cutting up pizza toppings, preparing wedges and chocolate brownies but his time with Active in HELL gave him more than practical skills.
It provided the Wellington High School student with a sense of independence. He was fully paid for his time and used his wages to take his dad out for pork dumplings, as Tai also uses his new knowledge to bond with his dad in the kitchen.
“I make him omelettes,” he says. “I cut up spinach and spring onions and we cook with that.”
Tai loves fashion and photography at school, he has made a lunch bag and plans to create more. He’s also applied for a Skills for Living course at WelTec.
His Choices NZ coordinator Rosie McRobie says that his time with HELL was hugely beneficial.
“He’s grown significantly in confidence, but the main benefit to him was it installed a sense of pride in putting on the HELL Pizza shirt and coming to a place where he’s valued, acknowledged, cherished and loved. The team here all love him. Even the ones that don’t work on the days he does, came in just to meet Tai, because they’d heard about him and what a joy he is.”
Thanks to his time with Active in HELL, Tai will be prepared for whatever route he chooses to go down next.
Active in HELL overview
Active in HELL is a partnership between HELL Pizza and IHC New Zealand, the leading provider of services for people with intellectual disabilities.
The initiative provides youths with intellectual disabilities the chance to learn key vocational skills and vital independence through being paid for their training in HELL store kitchens around the country.
The paid training programme consists of 12 two-hour shifts, in which participants learn everything from food safety to how to create a devilishly good pizza.
Running since 2013, Active in HELL recently surpassed 150 graduates and in 2016 won the Diversability Award at the New Zealand Diversity Awards. The Diversability Award is presented to businesses that use innovation to create employment opportunities for differently abled people, including those with physical and mental health conditions.