An Asda colleague who has first-hand experience with autism support and came up with the idea of the Happy Little Helpers initiative has seen the scheme rolled out to more than 300 stores across the UK, including the retailer’s stores in Northern Ireland, following a huge success in the store she works in up in Middlesbrough.
Jenny Barnett, who has a four-year-old autistic son, Charlie, knows how difficult it can be trying to complete the weekly shop as a family. So in March this year she designed and created a child friendly shopping list using symbols of groceries such as fruit, vegetables and biscuits.
Charlie and other children visiting the store can use the Velcro-backed symbols to help their parents shop, making it easier for children to ignore distractions and ensure a calmer, stress free shopping trip.
The rollout came following an Asda Facebook post about Jenny’s idea, with many other families commenting they’d love to see this in their local store. Following the success of the initiative in Middlesbrough, Asda bosses decided to roll out the Happy Little Helpers initiative to more than 300 stores, much to the delight of Jenny.
Asda colleague, Jenny Barnett, 31, said: “I know how hard it is to go into a shop and be a Mum with a child who is throwing a tantrum and throwing themselves on the floor.
“By creating the shopping list it takes the pressure away and helps children concentrate on a task which in turn reduces stress.
“I’m absolutely delighted that the Happy Little Helpers initiative is being rolled out to more than 300 stores, it makes me very proud and if it can help just one Mum, Dad or child then the whole thing will be worth it.”
From the 11-17 September, community champions in Asda stores will be holding instore awareness events featuring information boards for parents on the initiative as well as ‘Happy Little Helper’ packs which are now available for parents who feel they might need some help to get round the store with their children.
How the Happy Littler Helpers Shopping List works
The Happy Little Helpers game is designed to get the kids involved with the weekly shop, by encouraging them to find shopping list items and pop them in the trolley. The shopping lists are designed using durable Foamex material and Velcro backed counters. There is also a handy clip so that customers can hang them from their trolley. Though the activity was originally designed for children with autism, the activity is available to all children.
Parents select items needed from the products available on the shopping list and add them to the blank white squares. The children find the items in store and add them to the basket. Once the items been added to the basket, the child gets a smiley face next to that product. If the item isn’t available the parent puts in a cross. The Star counter is for a product of the parents / child’s choice.