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In the Shady Mellow

The creative drive and vision of a group of locals is ramping up in Masterton: Where an industrial building has been moulded into an extraordinary space for youth.

The Shady Mellow, a registered charity, will soon open its doors at 34 Bentley St, an easy walk from the town centre. Its creator, Kate McAdam [35], hatched a plan to support Wairarapa families with an indoor facility – and her ideas snowballed.

For seven months, McAdam and her team have filled the building with a skate ramp and wheel sports zone, a playground structure with a “super fast” slide, a Lego lounge, a “Rave Cave”, board game zone, creative corner, gaming areas and an outdoor garden.

“The Shady Mellow name references skater slang and the location of the ramp,” McAdam said. “The curvature of our skate ramp is mellow and easy for beginners. Shady refers to the ramp being inside.”

Originally from Upper Hutt, McAdam had a successful leadership career in banking before moving to Wairarapa.

“I didn’t enjoy school but think I would have thrived if given a chance to be self-directed and have creative freedom,” she said.

Spurring McAdam’s drive for a youth venue is her desire to help neuro-divergent children. As an adult with ADHD, she understands the importance of comfortable and supportive environments.

“We have a youth mental health crisis and too many ambulances at the bottom of the cliff,” she said. “I hope The Shady Mellow is preventive – supporting youth and families to create connections, a sense of belonging and reduce the likelihood of poor mental health outcomes.”

With the support of Masterton local Janine Ogg and the homeschooling community, McAdam aims to create a self-directed learning academy at The Shady Mellow for homeschooled children, where they can meet other families and engage in activities important to them.

Plans include an elevated music hub, a café where youth can gain skills for employment, discos, and art programmes.

“We listened to the rangatahi [youth] of New Zealand and took action.”

She believes every young person has a “unique genius” which may be untapped: “When children turn 13, they no longer follow their parents. They are designed to rebel against them. Their community becomes their main influence.

The Shady Mellow’s skate ramp is an indoor option for youth. PHOTO/JULIA MAHONY

“Our space is a supplement to the school system. Teachers can’t do it all – they need community support and different ways to engage students. Coming here will help children gain skills important to them and help them stay engaged in their education.”

McAdam has a clear unique genius for gathering support from Wairarapa businesses, with each one approached giving large discounts or donations, including labour, building supplies, furniture, flooring, skateboards and safety gear.

After three years searching for a building, Masterton landlord Peter Munn was “willing to take a chance on us”, McAdam said.

“Weir & Crow Carpentry and Crispin & Co have poured their hearts into building our space. The support from locals has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are incredibly grateful for the effort everyone has put into this space. Wairarapa has stood up for youth.”

Once the venue is up and running, with a “soft launch” next month, McAdam plans to tap into funding streams, including from Masterton District Council.

Several leaders have been employed, including Tayla Hayward, head of creativity, who is also painting the interior.

The Shady Mellow holds a maximum of 45 people, with sessions being 90 minutes to two hours long. Users can pay per session, or subscribe to a weekly membership, with an app available. Children aged 11 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

“We want to complement the Masterton outdoor skatepark and give locals an all-weather space to roll. There are some very talented local scooter riders that will benefit from having a space to refine their skills,” McAdam said.

“Our culture at The Shady Mellow will be our defining feature – a culture of belonging, compassion and creativity. We are here to nurture our young people’s nature and empower them to live their dream.”

To donate to the Mellow Industries Charitable Trust, email [email protected]

McAdam has found unusual items online to paint and embellish for The Shady Mellow interior. PHOTO/JULIA MAHONY

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