Our Program

By using the Enabling Good Lives approach, we are able to help individuals develop person-centered plans each term which are based on their strengths, preferences and goals. Working with whanau we develop individualized plans where we try to be as flexible as possible while reflecting choices that each individual makes.  We are lucky enough to be able to access and contribute meaningfully in many community based options which supports people to develop life skills while also being able to enjoy recreational and leisure activities.

Art and Woodwork

We head out one afternoon a week to an art base in the community. We also have a group who regularly visit the MENZ Shed in Naenae for woodwork. We have completed a range of projects, including constructing a model of Petone and creating a Thumbs Up Art Trail, where we produced a number of paintings which were framed and hung in local businesses. At Menz Shed we have completed individual projects such as a clothes airer, a jewellery box and a storage chest, just to name a few.


At Thumbs Up we run both group and individual cooking activities. In addition to this, some people have goals based around learning basic food preparation skills and receive one-to-one teaching of these skills especially those that are readying themselves to head out flatting and are learning how to follow recipes and safely prepare food and cook meals.


Thumbs Up has contracted Claire Hewitt from Igniting the Creative Spark, for a number of years to run an in-house drama group.  Drama provides an opportunity to explore our individual creativity in a safe and fun environment and is much enjoyed. Drama sessions are high energy, full of laughs and provide plenty of practice for the inner actor/actress within each of us to come out!

Check out this link to see all of the amazing drama activities that Thumbs Up and Claire were working on up to December 2018. creativespark.nz/…ews/2018/12/13/coconuts

The Drama crew have also produced a Cowboy film which they wrote themselves – Good Will Triumph.

Communication and Literacy

In 2015 we secured funding which allowed us to bring in Inclusive Communication Therapist Shannon Hennig. We have developed communication goals for every person who attends our service. We currently have multiple weekly literacy groups with different focuses for different people and needs.  Members of the groups are given lots of activities to practice reading and writing skills, as well as ways to communicate and find out information in the wider community, such as emails and phone calls using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) where necessary. We have even been able to head out to a local cafe and order our own drinks! In addition, these sessions provide the opportunity for Shannon and her staff to get to know individuals better, offering more opportunities for communication and engagement.

We see communication skills as a key link in the chain of a good quality of life and we are proud of what is being achieved through the communication skills program.


Music is one of the most popular activities in our center and we offer it in a range of ways and in a variety of settings. We start each day with a social circle for everyone with music chosen by the service users and this provides a nice space for settling into the centre and the day. Anthony Manere, our music therapist, runs several music groups throughout the week, focusing on aspects such as relaxation, participation, self-expression, turn taking and many other skills, as well as providing 1:1 sessions for those that want it. In the community music sessions with Claire Hewitt we visit other places in the community to share our music, and through music we interact socially and build friendships with others.

We see music as unique in its ability to reach almost everyone. It is easily one of the most popular activities at Thumbs Up and we continue to develop ideas around how this amazing tool can be used in different ways.

Community Inclusion and Engagement

One of our key focuses at Thumbs Up is the inclusion and engagement of  people in their own communities. We strongly believe that participating in and contributing to your community in various ways is an incredibly important element to achieving a high quality of life.  We aim to spend at least 50% of our time away from the Thumbs Up hall.

Included in community inclusion are various roles which provide opportunities for contribution. To this end we are proud to be a part of the Meals on Wheels program which has run for many years.  Some people do work experience placements in local community agencies such as the Petone Library, Settlers Museum and The Remakery.  These roles are valuable in building relationships between our service and others in the community while also enabling relationships to be built on the personal and individual level and the development of new skills for personal development.

Sports & Recreation

Our program looks at multiple different sports and recreation activities. Over the past couple of years there have been many sports activities, from community sailing with Sailability (which is a much loved activity by all who engage) to weekly tramping/walking, challenging those taking part to develop physical skills and fitness.  For those who prefer water based activities there are a number of swimming based groups who head to Huia Pool to make use of their hydrotherapy pool as well as the main pool. There are many smaller sports/games groups that are run at Thumbs Up and at the local parks in the warmer months. There is also a gym group which heads out to the local City Fitness gym. Once a year we also get together with Ignite Sport and run a day course at Brookfield Scout Camp where we do a number of fun activities from team games to zooming down the flying fox.


Thumbs Up Charitable Trust