Moms U Matter (MUM) at Highbanks Society
Highbanks Society is a residential agency that offers a safe home to single mothers between the ages of 16 and 24 and to their children. Highbanks has eight units with subsidized rent. Residents may stay for up to two years while they complete their high school or post-secondary program and create a career path.
The Moms U Matter (MUM) program presented by the Junior League of Calgary (JLC) at Highbanks Society gives these young moms hands-on experience with healthy food choices, meal planning, meal budgeting, food preparation and kitchen safety.
Beginning in September 2010, JLC members presented the MUM program monthly at the Community Kitchen located within the Co-op store in downtown Calgary. Before each session, members of the JLC planned the themed menu, shopped for necessary ingredients and prepared printed recipes. At the session, the business of meal preparation was immediately undertaken. Typically three to four stations were created to permit two young women to cook at each station.
The JLC MUM volunteers assisted each pair and offered suggestions of how to handle ingredients, how to select and safely use the required kitchen tool, and how to modify the recipes for individual taste preferences. The young women received recipe pages to add to their MUM binder each session along with kitchen tools to use when making the recipes.
Recipes that were used to teach the program skills included Chicken Quesadillas, Shepherd’s Pie, Honey Mustard Chicken, Baked Salmon with Tomatoes, Fast Chili and Banana Oatmeal Pancakes, as well as various vegetable dishes, salads and desserts. The fellowship and fun of eating the meals together and conversations between the JLC members and the MUM participants added to each evening’s positive experience.
The JLC presented various kitchen items such as a refrigerator, rice cooker, Panini grill, chopping board, knife set, storage containers, measuring cups and spoons, utensils and a BBQ to Highbanks Society to start up their new kitchen at their remodeled facility. These items will be integral tools in presenting future MUM sessions.
In addition to presenting the MUM program, the JLC provided funding to permit the women of Highbanks Society to benefit from the GLOW - Girls Leading Others Wisely, a unique personal development program. The GLOW program focuses on building self-esteem, leadership qualities and other life skills for female youth. The staff at Highbanks Society and GLOW founder Kim Tackaberry worked together to customize GLOW content and to implement a pilot of this specially designed program to the parenting youth at Highbanks Society.
During the 2011-2012 JLC year the MUM program will be offered within the new kitchen facility at Highbanks Society. We are confident that this year’s program will be even more effective and fun than last year’s!
Brenda‘s House is a re-housing program with a sheltering component aimed at moving families toward independence and their own sustainable housing. It is a safe place where up to 14 families are given their own private and lockable room complete with furnishings and private bathroom. Families reach out to Brenda‘s House when they have exhausted all options for housing and are now homeless. Operated by the Children’s Cottage Society, Brenda‘s House opened on February 1, 2009 and has served over 358 families since that time. The average stay for a family is one month. The clients receive nutritious meals, week-day child care, access to many community agencies and programs to support the growth and development of the children.
The Treasure Trunk program presented by the JLC at Brenda’s House
targets the key issues of nutrition and healthy eating, literacy, music
and movement and the arts. We present developmentally appropriate, themed
activities for the various ages of children who may be in residence
during our twice-monthly sessions.
As part of Kids in the Arts, our JLC members help the children explore the beauty of a selected piece of artwork. Our art inventory contains copies of masterpieces as well as copies of works by Canadian artists. After exploring a particular piece, which to date has consisted of a painting, the children embark on creating their own artistic creations using a craft plan developed specifically for the evening. Through their art, attendees have transformed themselves into queens and kings and have contributed to courtly entertainment with their original hand-made masks.
Yoga, bowling and limbo are featured during Kids in Motion and Music. The JLC members tailor the activity for the range of ages of the children in attendance. Indoor bowling for ages 4 through 14 provides challenges, but many strikes and spares are celebrated! The attendees quite enjoy their introduction to yoga by the JLC members. We always see interest and joy on the faces of the children as the yoga poses are demonstrated and assumed.
Kids in the Story and Babies in the Story are also components of the Treasure Trunk program. No child is too young or too old to enjoy a story. For children about four and older, a JLC member selects a story, reads the story to the group with great flourish and drama, and leads the children in a craft related to the story. One can see their imaginations at work as they are transported into the pages of the book. For the babies and younger children, our members enjoy some cuddle time with story books that may include sound or puppets. Periodically, the younger children are provided with copies of books that have been read.
The Kids in the Kitchen component of the Treasure Trunk program introduces
the children to the concept of healthy food choices and helps them create
fast, nutritious snacks. The children have enjoyed yogurt parfaits, “ants
on a log”, pita pizzas with faces made from fruits and vegetables, “spider
crackers”, and many other fun and delicious items.
The JLC has presented various growth and developmental toys and educational tools to Brenda‘s House. Each of these items promotes our Issue Area of "Healthy and Active Living" and lays the groundwork for implementing our Treasure Trunk program ideas.
During the 2011-2012 JLC year, the Treasure Trunk program will be delivered once again at Brenda’s House by our members on a monthly basis. In early 2012, JLC members will offer a hands-on training session for Brenda’s House staff and volunteers to learn the program elements as part of our partnership agreement to ultimately transition the program to Brenda’s House staff.
The Teen Tote project began in 2004 and is aimed at providing gift totes to Calgary teens who have traditionally been underserved during the December holiday season. JLC members solicit donations, purchase items, stuff totes and deliver them to various agencies serving teens in our community. These totes have historically contained a combination of seasonal candy, gift passes for area recreational opportunities, toques and gloves, hygiene products, school and sporting activity supplies and gift cards for area restaurants and merchants. During its first year, the Teen Totes project provided gifts for 100 teens; since 2008, this JLC project has provided gifts for 300 teens each year.
Each spring, Junior Leagues in four countries present Kids in the Kitchen to introduce grade school-aged children to the tools for making and enjoying healthy food choices. This international program is based on the Junior Chefs program that was developed by the Junior League of Calgary.
Since 2006, the JLC has visited a different Calgary area elementary school each year to present our Kids in the Kitchen program. The program includes modules on active living and nutritious eating, such as dancing, food group relays and interactive discussions on portion size and label reading in our “Mission Nutrition Lab”. A highlight for the attending Grade 4 to 6 students is to watch a local chef prepare a nutritious and tasty snack, such as banana sushi or crushed toad smoothies!
In 2012, the JLC shared the Kids in the Kitchen message with 200 students at Rundle School. May 2013 will find the JLC delivering the Kids in the Kitchen initiative to students at Catherine Nichols Gunn (C.N. Gunn) School.
For more information, check out our Kids In The Kitchen Fact Sheet.
View a newsclip of Junior League of Calgary's Kids in the Kitchen event on YouTube!
The JLC holds Impact Events mini projects that benefit our
current and past projects or fill an immediate need within the Calgary