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February 11th, 2011

It’s not just cooking!

We love cooking at the Canaan Project and Cooking Club provides a valuable opportunity for us to spend some focused time with young people, helping us to build up a fuller picture and understanding of them, their lives and the issues they face. As a result we have been able to help the young people reflect and take action in a variety of areas, during cooking club.

Our first group of boys were often rude to staff and to each other but didn’t seem very aware that they were doing it and ignored or responded badly to challenges. We sat down with them and discussed their behavior, agreeing on what was appropriate and got them to come up with consequences for not keeping to the agreed behaviour. This really helped the boys’ awareness and ownership of their actions in future sessions and will hopefully impact their behaviour in other contexts too.

We also ran a girls only group which was particularly positive as young women do not generally access youth provision. With this group we had an issue with one of the girls really disliking another girl and refusing to work with her. We had a discussion with her about the situation including the need to look past peoples faults and to look for the good in them. We challenged her to try to recognise one good thing in this particular girl during a session which she did and this has really transformed their relationship. Again we hope that this small but significant step will help this girl build positive relationships in other contexts.

These are great examples of working with young people over specific issues, but sometimes the greatest part of what we do is the unglamorous but completely life changing role of the encouraging adult, believing in what they do and who they are as young people, wandering toward adulthood.