New Frontier Participants Cooking Up New Skills 

Some great things are cooking at New Frontier! New Frontier participants have been taking cooking classes to help them navigate their way around the kitchen, develop basic cooking skills, and learn about nutrition.  

Birch Family Services New Frontier program supports transition-age young adults with autism and developmental disabilities in maximizing their strengths to achieve their personal life goals. Our staff guide these young adults in areas such as employment services, community living, social recreation, and health and wellness. These services allow participants to continue their educational journey and develop the skills necessary to increase independence.  

“Cooking is an essential life skill and it’s such an important part of becoming an independent adult,” said Kate Libby, owner of Kate Libby Coaching. 

Kate is leading participants in a three week six-session series focusing on nutrition, ingredients, and meal preparation through a variety of recipes like omelets and overnight oats. Although this is an introductory course, Kate’s main goal is to encourage individuals to overcome any anxiety they may have in the kitchen and try the recipe on their own.  

“Many find there are some barriers and challenges to cooking,” said Kate. “My focus is really on independence and defining what success is for each individual and how to get there.”  

Using cooking supplies provided by New Frontier, one budding chef has yet to miss a class or recipe and has even done a little extra credit work by improvising some recipes on his own.  

“It’s going really well and I’m enjoying learning about new food,” said New Frontier participant Dave F. “I’ve cooked pasta in my kitchen, made tacos, and my own grilled cheese. I’m able to cook on my own.”  

To help participants better understand the curriculum, Kate and New Frontier staff have made the classes accessible to learners of all levels by providing a specific structure, building in repetition, and using the exact same materials as participants for an easier transfer of skills.  

“There are a lot of executive functional skills involved,” said Kate. “Practicing in an arena where there is a lot of reinforcement strengthens those skills to transfer into other areas.”  

Although the focus is on cooking skills, Kate said participants are learning so much more. By introducing the group to cooking, she is also helping them learn about budgeting, how to read and review recipes, and how to prepare meals based on proportions. With the help of New Frontier staff, the course is teaching participants to work toward greater independence.