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Support Mates find independence and joy in TAFE Queensland cooking class

In a moving story of community alliance and personal growth, Support Mates students discover confidence, independence, and joy through TAFE Queensland's cooking classes. 

Enthusiastically mixing, stirring, and cake decorating, the students embark on a culinary journey in the kitchens at TAFE Queensland’s Robina campus, crafting delectable spaghetti and meatballs, whimsical Yoyo cookies adorned with lemon buttercream icing, and mouth-watering Garlic butter cheesy bread, all while gaining essential cooking skills.

Committed to assisting individuals with varying intellectual and physical disabilities, Support Mates together with TAFE Queensland deliver life-changing cooking classes where everyone leaves beaming with pride.

Grace McIntyre, Support Mates Director of Programming & Lead Support, said the TAFE Queensland cooking class plays a pivotal role in helping their students prepare for the next stage of their lives.

“The program equips Support Mates students with essential life skills, nurturing their independence and empowering them to pursue their life goals, regardless of their ability levels,” said Ms McIntyre.

“Giving our Mates the opportunity to participate in independence-building cooking class is a fundamental aspect of their journey towards self-sufficiency.”

“They gain valuable confidence in preparing basic food items, using kitchen equipment and cooking with heat. This helps them transition into a more independent lifestyle and make good decisions on healthy food options that are fun,” she said.

The impact of these cooking classes is evident not only in the personal growth of the students but also in the feedback received from both the students and their families

Ms McIntyre said seeing the smiles on the Mates' faces when they take home extras to share with their families is truly heart-warming.

“They have so much pride on their faces and are so excited to share what they have learned to cook with their loved ones," she said.

“Families of Support Mates students are immensely grateful for the opportunity their loved ones have to work on essential life skills. They find solace in knowing that they are learning skills that will support them when they become more independent.”

The ongoing partnership between TAFE Queensland and Support Mates has flourished over the past three years and exemplifies the power of education, community, and compassion in transforming lives.

TAFE Queensland’s Gold Coast General Manager, Karen Dickinson said the organisation is committed to inclusive education and the positive impact it can have on individuals with varying abilities.

“Our partnership with Support Mates is cherished and essential. The cooking class is not merely an extracurricular activity; it is a lifeline for these individuals and their families,” said Ms Dickinson.

“The cooking sessions have become a highlight for all involved, fostering a sense of belonging and achievement.”

Ms McIntyre from Support Mates expressed gratitude to TAFE Queensland, acknowledging their role in creating a safe and inclusive environment for their students.

“The impact of the TAFE Queensland cooking class resonates far beyond the classroom, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of Support Mates students and their families,” she said.