By: Raquel Castaneda
Tyrell, a young adult who has autism, and his mother Sabrina Parker have been faithfully attending our Healthy Summer Days workshops that have been set up especially for our youth with disabilities. The Healthy Summer Days workshops is a series of six weeks presented by the LSU AgCenter that focuses on healthy eating and trying new recipes.
At each meeting the participants get to try new recipes, learn about healthy food choices, receive a free gift, make new friends, and break out of their shell. It has truly been a great experience for Tyrell.
At the first meeting we had, Tyrell sat in the back and did not say much in the beginning. But that changed within a few minutes. The presenter, Karen Walker-Jones, has done a marvelous job making sure everyone is engage and participating. So when she saw Tyrell sitting away from everyone she kindly invited him to come closer, and he did. This led to an increase in his awareness to what was happening as well as his participation.
This is huge step for him, he normally does not participate as much, especially in a room full of people he barely knows. But through these workshops, he has been able to open up. He may not always answer the presenter’s questions as quickly, but you can tell that he is listening and processing everything. But when he does answer her questions, he does so delightfully. He has also been such a great help to the presenter as he gladly helps pass out flyers or other materials.
This has been a great experience for him overall. He has been able to speak for himself as well as meet new friends. With the knowledge he has gained at our workshops, he has been able to help make the grocery list at home and pick out the healthier options at the store.
He enjoys learning about the different food choices and what makes them healthy. Which is so great for him at home, his getting closer and closer to being independent. This is what we are working towards.
To promote independence and practice it, his mother, Sabrina, also says that she finds these workshops enjoyable and has learned from it. She not only finds that her son’s eating habits have improved but her’s as well.