Young foodies building skills and friendship around the table
A poor experience at another recreation program left 13-year-old Seb reluctant to have another go. But with the Geelong teenager spending a lot of time socially isolated at home, his mother Kylie was keen to see him try something new. So when she heard about Gateways’ new Education Around the Table program, she knew it would be perfect for her young foodie.
And she was right; Seb returned from the first E.A.T session at Gateways Support Services in Geelong, raving about the program.
‘His big thing was he kept repeating that he just felt safe, and that is a huge thing for him to not only feel that but say he felt that way, particularly after an experience with another company that left him feeling vulnerable and very unsafe,’ Kylie explains.
‘As his Mum, it is a huge relief for me that he may once again start participating in activities at some stage on a more regular basis now that he has a feeling of safety and security.’
E.A.T is a new program designed for young people who are interested in cooking and like to enjoy food with friends. The program, which runs separate groups for teenagers and adults, promotes life skills while building peer relationships.
Participants in the fortnightly program plan out their menu, shop for ingredients, prepare the ingredients, cook the meal and enjoy eating together.
There is also an opportunity for chilling out and playing games, allowing participants time to get to know each other and develop new friendships; something that Seb has found difficult in the past.
‘When I came to pick him up after the first session, he was playing a game of Pictionary on the window and he tends to make the drawings quite hard to guess. But the other kids weren’t angry at him. They were laughing. They all said goodbye to him and he left with a big smile on his face, ’Kylie says.
Seb says that as well as loving the cooking part of the program, he has also learned how to make friends, adding that he’s never had friends before joining E.A.T.
‘I like to cook and I try to be really friendly,’ Seb says.
Asked what he would like people to know about him, Seb says, ‘That I really try to have friends but it doesn’t work out; but I don’t give up.’