Start With Value in PRACTICE

For almost a decade, Heat of the Kitchen has been serving 50 youth every year at Ida B. Wells Continuation High School with engaging culinary and hospitality activities . This is an overview of our program as it relates to our larger vision of creating a similarly driven youth “hub” in the Civic Center area which we are currently calling PRACTICE.

The skills we most value in life come from our experiences, not from our thinking. Providing a positive place for our youth to practice and experience their skills will better help them connect and succeed.

Our Youth

Our youth at Ida B. Wells Continuation High School come from all over the city and are essentially opportunity youth, having not been successful at other high schools.

In working with them, we recognize a majority of them live in trauma, experience an increasing amount of violence or deal with serious anxiety or depression. As we get to know them and hear their stories, we also hear how they feel alone, isolated or numb.

For many, it is as if they stopped dreaming.

Cooking and eating together is a powerful experience. When you ask someone about a favorite memory, more often than not it is around food. It opens doorways both subtle and tangible.

We place this cooking experience within the theme of professional practice. For teens it is a perfect combination because it is a positive, energetic and respectful environment that they love. It is real.

Students step into our kitchen and work with us for about 60 hours each, preparing and participating as they would in many of our better restaurants in our city.

Along with this professionally minded cooking, we weave in additional learning experiences, relating to other job and life skills so that they are able to graduate with confidence for their futures.

Our weekly “prep” regularly builds to a professionally plated meal we enjoy together, discovering hospitality and building a sense of belonging and sense of self, along with many transferable, in-demand skills. Our significantly higher class attendance rates compared to continuation school averages and student “culture & climate” data support us in knowing that our efforts are valuable.

Most importantly, our students sense their own value in ways that open up their ability to build the inherent, limitless potential we each have. Few things are more powerful than getting in touch with your own value.

Most of our students don’t intend to become chefs, although anyone who has cooked or served together can sense the value in the experience.

Skills such as team building, resilience and communicating well under pressure can only be learned through experience.

In our pop-up events, students get a taste of what it is like to combine all these seemingly invisible skills into a tangible experience that in turn builds pride and links to the amazing power of true hospitality.

Finding ways to build these further without risking failure in the workplace is a challenge for all youth today, especially opportunity youth.

Our youth want and need more support as they navigate the world of work. That is why we want to build a larger effort in providing this doorway into valuing yourself and your experiences.

By creating a youth hub near the Civic Center using the welcoming doorway of culinary and hospitality practice, we can help more underserved youth realize their value, build skills and prepare satisfying futures.

For snapshots of additional information, please press the back button or return to our website, heatofthekitchen.org. or our PRACTICE page.

Thank You!
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