Learning to Cook and Gain Independence!

Cooking, what a great life skill to learn! This summer I was able to support my 11-year-old neurotypical son as he joined a great group of teen and adult participants in GiGi Kitchen. GiGi Kitchen like other GiGi’s programs are geared for individuals with Down syndrome but are open to people with all levels of skills and a wide variety of ages. Mason was easily the youngest and didn’t really want to learn anything about cooking. But since his school was canceled this past spring for the COVID-19 pandemic, he became very comfortable with mom taking over all the meals even if he was a great helper in other arenas it is SO important to me that he learn independence in the kitchen too. After a few weeks of shutting down over something relatively little (in my mind), he figured out that I was going to keep him in the program and just decided to move on. This is what is so valuable, the ability to persevere, to work through difficulties to carry on, and get the”job” done.

Over the past eight weeks, he progressed from cracking his first egg, to following recipes to learning to cut veggies and chicken. He has become so proud to share with everyone what he is learning and making. Not only did he gain confidence but he has been helping me as we make dinners together now!

It was hard to see him struggle to keep up and get confused by the various sizes of the measuring tools, but he is getting it and couldn’t be happier! He really is proud to be able to do these tasks independently. Becky, the program leader listens to the participants, waits for everyone to be ready before moving on, and is so clear in her direction giving that each participant can all follow along at home. This is an excellent program for all teens, pre-teens, and adults.

GiGi’s Kitchen is designed to emphasize the importance of health and wellness through nutrition education, kitchen safety, food preparation, social activities, and a shared meal/snack. Participants will learn about and progress through skills including measurements, food handling, knife skills, ingredient identification, palette expansion, and nutrition. Participants will be introduced to various cooking techniques and will increase their self-esteem and self-confidence with their peers! Weekly ingredients and materials are shared with enrolled participants through a Microsoft Teams channel just for GiGi Kitchen. Check our calendar for upcoming dates:  https://gigisplayhouse.org/milwaukee/calendar/
Recommended Ages: 13 years old and older

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