10th February 2023
“It grows their confidence – after they learn a new cooking technique you see their smiles” according to Yvonne McMahon, Project Worker with the Pairc School Completion Programme (SCP) Limerick, explaining the impact and rewards for young students who participated in the Healthy Food Made Easy schools programme recently.
Yvonne and fellow Pairc SCP Project Worker, Julieanne Carr, delivered the programme after they in turn had received training and were delighted to add it to the range of projects and programmes they deliver in schools in the Mid West.
Julieanne explains that “as a project worker, who is working with young people and children in schools every day, we know that what we do provides extra support.” She outlines how they generate various school activities and also provide Easter, Christmas and Summer Camps.
“A lot of what we do is designed to help the children and young people with their social skills and coping skills. It allows them to find solutions and learn new skills. It helps in giving them the means to handle any problems they may encounter and just generally helps with their self-confidence and self-esteem. So, with the Healthy Food Made Easy programme, it was great because you were teaching them a life skill.” Outlining what is involved Julieanne explains that “it’s very practical, you have them cooking food for themselves. They are getting to try things and taste things that they might not have tried before and it’s opening a new world for them – they are taking that learning out into the world with them.”
Yvonne explains that they had been “thinking of a programme that would get students in the door, that would allow them to participate. I would give them options to see what they wanted to do. Cooking and baking were the number one choice.”
Julieanne says the most rewarding aspect for her has been “seeing the change that happens in the young people each day and seeing it all come together for them – allowing them to make decisions for themselves.”
Yvonne adds that “they are building their confidence every day and it’s brilliant, really rewarding for us too to see that.”
With the children and young people bringing the food they cook home, Yvonne says this in turn adds another dimension: “If we have anything left over – ingredients - we give it to them and we encourage them to see if they can make it themselves at home. And they come back and tell us then that they have made a certain thing and they have given it to their family members, to their Nana and Grandad, and they are delighted.”
Yvonne concludes: “It’s just building their confidence to continue with it. They learn a new technique, a new skill and it all grows through participation. You see the smiles on their faces – they’re getting their beautiful aprons and they wear them with pride - so it’s just super.”
Watch a video about the Healthy Food Made Easy schools programme - youtube.com