Les ateliers cinq épices

("five-spices workshops")

Supported by the Foundation from 2003 to 2009

Working primarily with children, changing lifestyle habits (promoting healthy eating in particular) and helping individuals and communities take ongoing responsibility for their health are some of the principles that have guided the actions of the Foundation and led it to support the Petits cuistots/Parents en réseaux ("Little cooks/Parents' network") project.

The project was initiated in 2003 by the community organization Les ateliers cinq épices, which has developed expertise in promoting healthy nutrition through its cooking and nutrition workshops for children from 2 to 12 years of age.

The Petits cuistots/Parents en réseaux workshops are offered to school children, their parents and adults in general, especially in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Their goals:

  • Teach children and their parents the basics of healthy nutrition and cooking.
  • Encourage parents to be more actively responsible for their food choices and those of their family.
  • Strengthen bonds within the community, encourage mutual assistance among its members, and foster independence.

The Foundation started by helping the Ateliers cinq épices set up its Petits cuistots/Parents en réseaux project, which allowed the organization to offer cooking and nutrition classes to students in eight primary schools in underprivileged neighbourhoods in the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM). At the same time, the students' parents were invited to participate in activities to encourage the creation of networks for mutual support and personal development.

A second phase of support enabled the Ateliers to consolidate its achievements, increase the number of participants in new schools and, especially, to expand the range of the project. In 2007-2008, workshops were being given in 120 classrooms to a total of 2,223 students and their parents at eight primary schools in the CSDM (from junior kindergarten through Grade 6). Schools selected were located in underprivileged neighbourhoods, with a large number of students coming from low-income families.

Two evaluative research studies conducted in 2005 and 2008 showed that the Petits cuistots/Parents en réseaux resulted in:

  • the acquisition of cooking skills
  • the development of teamwork skills (by children at all levels)
  • appreciation of parents' participation in their children's classes and involvement in their schools
  • the creation of a space for listening, observing and sharing that strengthens the school's relationship with students' families (teachers more open to having parents participate in classes and school life in general) and families' connection with their children's school (parents more involved in their children's life at school).

Today, together with Jeunes pousses and Tablée des Chefs, Les ateliers cinq épices form the Consortium jeunesse de la terre à la table, an initiative supported by Québec en Forme. The Consortium's goal is to educate, equip and assist Quebec communities in their efforts to encourage children from 2 to 17 to adopt healthy eating habits.

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