Each and every one of us have strengths and weaknesses. Whether in society we are deemed as “normal” or having “special needs”, we each have to face the world one day and come into our own independently. We understand that when these children have certain special needs, they don’t necessarily function the same or as fast as everyone else. However, we are adamant that every child has the capabilities to be self-sufficient and independent with the right training and tools given. We want to fully equip these children with the right network in order for them find their strengths and harness it. We believe that cooking and kitchen skills are an essential part of helping them grow and come to be independent in the long run.
Every day, our kitchen prepares lunch for all the students and teachers in the centre and the kids are given a chance to help out in a surrounding that they might not be allowed into otherwise. From the cleaning of the floors and tables to the preparation of the food, each child is given a different role each day to find what they are able to do and what they are comfortable doing. Children with excellent motor skills are able to sit there preparing and cutting the vegetables and fruits while children with less of an attention span seem to enjoy cleaning up duties more. There are others still that actually enjoy the cooking experience and thus are able to help with the actual cooking and seasoning of the meals prepared.
We have seen how kitchen time under proper supervision have helped enlighten these children to grow and come into their own. Just a year ago, some of these kids weren’t even able to wear the sanitary gloves before food preparation on their own. They were not able to understand certain responses in certain situations and would only do what they are told when they are told to do it. Fast forward to a year later and now they are slowly learning the appropriate responses in different situations and are made more aware of their surroundings. Kitchen time plays an integral role in this as it allows them to focus in a very “normal” surrounding and makes them tap into their innate nature of being a part of something bigger and holding responsibilities other than floor time or doodle-play with their friends.
An inspiring success story is one of our graduates, Elaine who is now creating beautiful wedding cakes and is interning at a top bakery to further refine her skills! When Elaine first started coming to BEST in 2012, she would not bother with anything, had no attention span and was upset with life. She was frustrated with her homework, often tearing up her textbooks and had major behavioural issues. We noticed however, that she was comfortable being in the kitchen. Through gradual learning at our F&B Station special coaching, she started helping out more during kitchen time in day to day preparations and found that she had a talent for baking. Today, she has successfully enrolled and completed her Executive Diploma in Baking and Confectionary. This just goes to show that sometimes all these children need is a slight nudge in the right direction as well as given opportunities to further enhance them.
We want these children to be a part of society, to be accepted and to prove to the world and to themselves that just because they are technically known as “special needs” does not mean they are unable to function in the world. They just need to be given a chance to do so and to be accepted that they too are a part of your world. We have heard many of our young adults’ parents expressing their sorrow or regret at not giving their special needs child more opportunities and experiences in life when they were younger. Now, as a young adult, many of these children are unable to function properly at day to day tasks. This further enhances our belief that hands on experiences and opportunities are needed to help them grow.
If there are any entrepreneurs in the F&B industry, home bakers or personal chefs reading this article, we would love for you to give our kids a chance in life. From cookie making, to food prep, to meal cooking down to clean up, these children are equipped to help you out given the right chance. We will be organizing a one day only BEST Café on the 14thof May 2016 from 10 am to 3 pm to raise funds to better equip our F&B Kitchen and to teach them entrepreneurship skills. Come on along to see how these children have learned to cook and to serve you personally. If you would like to know more about the event or how you can support these children in their dream of one day being successful and independent by giving them a chance at helping and integrating back into society, please contact BEST at +603 4149 7977 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or better still, buy our coupon online by clicking below: