Online cooking and art lessons bring young people together virtually  

One of the highlights of 2019-2020 for the Inverell Family and Youth Support Service (IFYSS) was the Eat Smart Program – online classes with a qualified chef showing participants how to cook different meals. The Eat Smart Program was one example of the team adapting to changes due to COVID-19.   

Conducting cooking classes in the wake of COVID-19 is a challenge. However, it didn’t deter one of the IFYSS youth workers. Her idea: to offer virtual classes for participants.   

During the COVID-19 pandemic it was important for our clients to participate and engage in an activity each week. And so, the virtual classes were started.   

A local chef from the Inverell Sporties Club was interested in being involved and the Eat Smart Rural and Regional Resilience program was born. The virtual cooking sessions have been running with great success.   

The Eat Smart Program is helping our clients in many ways. Young people are spending quality time with their parents/guardians while cooking their meals. It’s proving to be a great way for many to bond with their families and friends. It’s not only helping families to build relationships, it’s also assisting some clients who suffer with social anxiety. The classes are helping to restore their confidence and while the option is there to turn off their video cameras while the classes are running, many are choosing not to and using the opportunity to engage.   

One young client has enjoyed the program so much she has been linked with Inverell TAFE, has started studying her Kitchen Services Certificate and started working at a local café.   

The success of the virtual cooking classes has inspired additional classes, with one of our youth workers approaching a local art teacher at Macintyre High School in Inverell about virtual art lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The virtual art lessons are a 10-week program. Four of our clients are involved in the program. The art teacher accepts the Creative Kids Voucher from the NSW Government, valued at $100 for the cost of the lessons. The brokerage in the IFYSS funding paid for the art supplies for our clients. The feedback from the classes has been really positive.   

It’s been amazing to see these clients doing something they really enjoy. In particular the cooking activity has helped families and friends to bond and have conversations and laughs they ordinarily wouldn’t have. 

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