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ndis Cook + Connect A cooking program run by Blue Mountains Food Services is helping young people with disability develop vital life skills and increase social connection. T he Cook + Connect program, Fran said she gets to enjoy the meals peers, he was in the kitchen helping to held throughout the Blue Josh cooks every Friday. serve up. “He takes so much pride in “I’m hoping one day he’ll have the started in April 2017 and, since then, knowing that I say to him every opportunity to work as a kitchen hand has helped young people like Josh Friday, ‘I love this meal’. It’s given … he loves serving and cleaning, so Elston become more independent. him so much confidence and given maybe there’s opportunities there for him the opportunity to show he employment down the line. The world + Connect had impacted her and can cook – and he loves cooking,” is his oyster and Cook + Connect is Josh’s lives in a way she never she said. definitely helping him get there.” Mountains in New South Wales, Josh’s mum, Fran, said Cook imagined possible. “Our goal together is for Josh to live independently … it will be good Fran said she is “in awe” of what the program has done for Josh. “If you had told me 20 years ago Leesa Raymond from Blue Mountains Food Services NDIS Support said Cook + Connect is a life to know if anything should happen to that Josh would be cooking in the skills and social connection program me, he’s going to be self-sufficient, kitchen, I would have laughed … for young people with an NDIS plan be able learn how to cook, and learn so the program itself has been whose goals include developing safety in the kitchen,” Fran said. amazing, and he loves helping people cooking skills and social skills. Josh participates in Cook + Connect Group on a Tuesday, and Cook + Connect Home on a Friday. in kitchen situations,” Fran said. “At his Special Olympics Christmas party, instead of being out with his “There are three different Cook + Connect programs,” Leesa said. “Cook + Connect Group is where participants take part in small group sessions in a commercial kitchen; Cook + Connect Home is an individualised program where participants learn Josh in the kitchen, assisted by Leesa from Blue Mountains Food Services, at left and above. 16 ndis to do the shopping and then cook in their own kitchen; and Cook + Connect Community is a community- based program where participants work alongside a qualified chef and volunteers in a community restaurant.”