Common Threads continued to expand its programming during 2011. 2011 activities included 54 after-school classes in various low-income neighborhoods throughout Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, D.C. These after-school classes, in addition to summer camp and parent/child classes resulted in a total of over 1044 children aged eight to twelve being directly served by Common Threads last year alone. In fall 2011 Common Threads operated eighteen hands-on after-school cooking classes each week in Chicago, two in South Los Angeles, four classes in Miami, and four in Washington, D.C. Support from the Annenberg Foundation was essential to sustaining Common Threads’ programming and furthering our national expansion in 2011.
After-school cooking classes were offered at partner sites for two ten-week sessions in 2011, a winter-spring session and a fall session. Over the course of each ten-week Cooking Skills & World Cuisine session, 16 low-income children aged eight to twelve learn basic cooking techniques and life skills. Trained chef instructors teach students how to prepare well-balanced meals using fresh, inexpensive, wholesome ingredients. Each week the curriculum focuses on a different country, and the children cook three to four healthy, ethnic recipes from that specific culture. Our hands-on classes allow children to learn and practice basic cooking skills that they take with them along the ten-week journey
Throughout Chicago programs in 2011, we implemented program enhancements designed to further engage parents and families alongside our students, to help build healthier, happier family units and, ultimately, healthier, stronger communities.
Common Threads works with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago to measure the impact of our programs. Anticipated outcomes for Common Threads’ Programs in 2012 are expected to support and improve upon key findings from the Program Evaluation released in 2011. Findings thus far have included:
• 90% of students feel they can cook at home using the skills they learned at Common Threads.
• 63% of students use Common Threads recipes at home with their friends and families.
• 99% of parents say their child has asked to cook at home more since beginning Common Threads.
• 90% of parents have seen improvement in their child's self-esteem since starting Common Threads.
• 92% of students want to know more about different cultures since joining Common Threads.
• 62% of parents say their child has expressed more interest in the family eating together since beginning Common Threads
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our successes as we look forward to a great year of continued growth. Every contribution helps and we want to sincerely thank you for helping us grow to reach more children and families in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.
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