Cooking lessons as youthwork?
From Salvation Army's Caring Magazine
When Kimberly Roberts came out of the hospital, she knew her health habits had to change. Her children knew it, too. “I didn’t know how much it impacted them,” she says, after hearing her daughter tell her, “I don’t want other people to go through what you went through.” That inspired Kimberly with an idea.
She is now co-founder of Parents and Youth Together which operates within the Salvation Army centre in Denver USA. Their primary focus is to encourage children and young teenagers to live a healthy lifestyle, which stems from staying active and eating healthy. They also promote them helping their parent(s) out in the kitchen.
The programme is called 'Chopped Jr'. It basically consists of physical activity, lesson plans and cooking, learning measurements, kitchen equipment, learning how to read recipes, budgeting, cooking techniques. It finishes with a competition where the chefs take everything they’ve learned over the past weeks, incorporate that into the meal that they make for the judges - think mini-Masterchef.
The Salvation Army centre is a community centre which has different classes for different programmes which impact the youth in the community. They see a lot of children come in from broken homes or families that are struggling just to make ends meet. That’s really common in their neighbourhood. It is a place for them to come and be safe and to be loved.
Lt. Mandy Hall says, "Kimberly is amazing. She blows us away in her involvement in the community, her involvement in the programme. She cares so much for these children. You can tell that she has invested in their lives and their family’s lives as well. She volunteers to do this."
Parents comment, "It was amazing to see him (her son) cook for the first time in person. He showed so much confidence and so much independence, and I was really proud of him. I was surprised to see how much initiative he took to complete a meal from start to finish." and "Since this competition, she’s (her daughter) really been in the kitchen trying to learn things and get it together for this day. It’s definitely helped her. I honestly wanted her to learn basic kitchen skills just for safety and possibly come out to be a chef when they’re older."
Kimberly says, "I struggled with starting the programme. I really didn’t have the money, and I knew it was going to take time away from my kids. But then something just kept calling, calling. I reached out to a ton of people. I got very little support, very little feedback. So, I sent a proposal to the Salvation Army. It was kind of like heaven-sent. It’s been a blessing."
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Could this initiative be copied and used for local youthwork? Learning lots of skills, building relationships and blessing parents.
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