Students at ACG Senior College are getting creative thanks to a Cooking Club run by two youth workers from 24/7 YouthWork.
For more than a year, Lauren Nemeth and Elliot Thorp have visited the school three times a week to teach students practical skills in the kitchen.
For many of the 20 students who have taken part, cooking is a completely new skillset. “When we’re baking, some of our international students won’t be familiar with ingredients like cornflakes or maple syrup, for example,” Lauren explains.
Lauren and Elliot worked closely with the school to develop the project, which came about as a way to help students fulfil the creativity component of the International Baccalaureate (IB) course. This calls for students to undertake creative endeavours outside the classroom to broaden their horizons.
But since then, Cooking Club has become much more than an academic requirement.
“We bake together, we eat together, and then we sit down and chat,” Lauren explains. “Everyone wants to be somewhere they feel wanted and safe. Food has always been an arena for community, a place where people come together to eat and share about their lives. Young people need people who can listen more to them, encourage them and be accessible. For us it has become about belonging.”
No one had expected the additional benefits, ACG Senior College principal Tracey Dykstra said.
“They’ve really broadened the idea of what success looks like. What started as a fantastic way for students to learn and reflect on a new skill has become an opportunity to meet new people, socialise, make friends and discuss any issues they’re facing. The energy is remarkable.”