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Kids find more than a feast in community kitchen

Learn cooking and life skills, find acceptance
Thursday June 14, 2012 — Michelle Strutzenberger

A community kitchen for moms who have a disability is set to expand through the summer months when they bring their children along.

Running for more than five years, the community kitchen has proven to be a place where the group of eight moms learn new skills, bond and garner some ideas for quick, nutritious meals to boot.

So why wouldn’t it be beneficial for their children to have a taste of the experience as well?

One of the parents, Rose Gower, says the group included their children last year, with great results.

“They were in there, helping cooking,” she recalls.

“They were learning life-skills.

“They were learning cooking skills.”

Perhaps most important, she says, the children were in an environment where they could be absolutely certain of being accepted.

“Some of the kids get bullied at school,” Rose says, noting a number of them have a disability.

“They don’t get that here in the kitchen. It’s bully-free. We accept everyone for who they are.”

The community kitchen for mothers who have a disability was launched by Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) family support worker Antoinette Ancheta more than five years ago.

She did so after running the idea by a few people, including Rose, who was instantly supportive.

“My family is unique, having two special needs kids and a regular kid, so I felt I was alone, and I needed some one to connect with who was in a similar boat,” she says.

She feels she’s found that support in the group, recalling the first time she walked through the doors of the kitchen at the BACI Silby Centre.

As a mother who has a disability raising three children, including two who have a disability, she’s faced her share of judgement and lack of understanding.

Would it be the same here again?

Then she saw another woman standing by the counter, a dog at her side, and Rose felt an instant connection, she says.

“I went up to her and said, ‘You have a dog. I love animals,’ “ saya Rose, her voice alive with enthusiasm.

It turns out the dog-owner’s name was Joanne Emerson and she and Rose have been close friends ever since, calling each other often outside of the biweekly community kitchen gatherings and attending one another’s birthday parties.

While not everyone has developed such a strong connection, they can all depend on finding a supportive team in the community kitchen, says Rose, describing the way she comes to the gatherings.

“It’s true you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” she says.

“If any one of you is having a bad day, you need to figure out what’s going on and fix it to the best of your ability.”

If that’s how the moms are committing to each other, their children certainly have some strong examples to follow.

For two related stories, click below:

Cooking together is good therapy, mom finds

Moms who have a disability find new belonging in community kitchen

Feel free to comment below, or e-mail michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.

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