The unexpected way Coles Little Shop collectables can help community

A Victorian organisation that specialises in helping people with disabilities has been overwhelmed by the response they got after asking for unwanted Coles Little Shop Collectables.

As it turns out, the miniature items aren’t just the obsession of small children and the nightmare of pestered parents – they can also help people who have trouble communicating.

Sunbury-based disability service provider Distinctive Options has started using the miniature products as “visual cues” for disabled people when they go shopping, or to a cafe, or if they need reminders to carry out everyday tasks.

This Coles Little Shop list is handy for people who have trouble reading written shopping lists. Source: Facebook/Distinctive Options
This Coles Little Shop list is handy for people who have trouble reading written shopping lists. Source: Facebook/Distinctive Options

“Everybody had been talking about these Coles mini collectables, so I picked some up and was studying the little Vegemite jar,” Distinctive Options’ Sarah Heriot told Yahoo7.

“It dawned on me that it could be used for a visual shopping list for people. The next day I suggested to the communication coordinator how brilliant it would be as a communication aid.

“We’re a non-profit organisation and we don’t have a marketing team as such, so our Facebook page is run by staff volunteers.

“We put a call-out on our Facebook page thinking we’d only reach our local communities, but many people thought it was a brilliant idea and shared our post.

“Since then we’ve been receiving phone calls, emails and messages from all around Australia.”

Some of the uses so far include Velcro-ing the collectables onto pieces of paper and using them as a kind of 3D shopping list for people who struggle to read a handwritten list.

Coles Little Shop mini collectables being used as a 3D shopping list. Source: Facebook/Distinctive Options
Coles Little Shop mini collectables being used as a 3D shopping list. Source: Facebook/Distinctive Options

“When they take the mini collectible item, like Maggi Chicken noodles, they can match the mini product with the same product they would like to buy,” Ms Heriot said.

Another set is used so that a woman can point to the type of drink she would like when she goes to a cafe – tea, Milo or coffee.

Little Shop Collectables being used to help a woman order the type of drink she would like. Source: Facebook/Distinctive Options
Little Shop Collectables being used to help a woman order the type of drink she would like. Source: Facebook/Distinctive Options

A third use is as a “visual prompt” to wash hands and brush teeth in the morning.

Ms Heriot said the Little Shop items are helping people to complete tasks that others may take for granted.

“We rate success with individuals as being able to make choices and being as independent as possible,” she said.

A visual cue to remember to wash hands and brush teeth in the morning. Source: Facebook/Distinctive Options
A visual cue to remember to wash hands and brush teeth in the morning. Source: Facebook/Distinctive Options

“We’re excited that we can highlight different methods of communication.

“People have been posting their communication hacks on our page which sparks conversation about different ways people communicate.”

Ms Heriot added that she hoped Coles will introduce another round of Mini Collectables – this time including bread, milk, butter and sugar.

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