Adult cooking classes go beyond learning new recipes and skills
Cooking classes for adults are often identified as an area of interest by the communities Our Place supports. However, once they are implemented on site, they are often less about learning to cook and more about social connection and increased confidence.
One of the roles of Our Place is to engage with the community and be informed about the needs and aspirations of families. Often during these interactions, the desire for on site cooking classes for adults becomes identified. Our Place then works with on site and local partners to help facilitate these opportunities and assist community members to engage.
Our Place has observed that what is often behind the desire for on site cooking classes is adults wanting to learn new recipes or to gain new skills that can then be included on a resume. At one Our Place site adult cooking classes have been a regular occurrence and emerged from these identified reasons. However, as is regularly the case, participants gain many more benefits.
At one particular Our Place site, participants have reported that the most significant benefit of attending adult cooking classes is their increased confidence. They have shared that their confidence to attend regularly, ask questions and try something new increases with each session. After a couple of weeks into the sessions, some participants mentioned that any initial anxiousness around attending has subsided. Others have shared that the weekly classes have provided them with a routine, and they now have something to look forward to each week.
Community Facilitators often observe that class attendance and punctuality increase over time. Many community members choose to continue participating the following term and seek other programs and activities to become involved in. New friendships also develop within these classes, with many participants meeting outside of class and, at times, supporting each other with school pick up and drop off. Another observation by Community Facilitators that indicates an increase in participants’ self-esteem and self-worth relates to noticing changes in some of the participant’s appearance. Over time, some participants begin attending with new hairstyles, wearing makeup and dressing in more formal clothing.
The cooking classes often involve components of information around nutrition and budgeting. Participants have also shared that by taking home food that they made in the class, they have been able to introduce their families to new foods. Taking food home has also helped participants introduce various new and nutritious meals at home.
Aligning with the Our Place Approach
Ensuring accessible soft entry adult learning opportunities, such as cooking classes, are available on site is core to the Our Place evidence based element of Adult Engagement, Volunteering, Learning and Employment.
This element is core to the Our Place Approach, as participation in adult learning can provide community members with opportunities for success, a sense of achievement and can contribute to parents’ and families’ sense of pride. Participation in activities that interest community members can also lead to a stronger sense of community for parents and carers experiencing social isolation – and can serve as a soft entry for community members into education and employment-related activities.
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