In October of 2011, I was lucky to have been asked to pioneer a Cooking and Nutrition class for the Bringing Up Down Syndrome organization (better known as BUDS). BUDS is a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness about down syndrome while serving its members with social activities, fundraisers, and other programs. In South Jersey alone, BUDS serves over 300 families in several counties. I have been close friends with several members of the organization and was honored when I was offered the opportunity to share my passion of nutrition and cooking with the group (pictured above)!
The mission of BUDS is to help parents with the challenges of raising a child with down syndrome. Getting children with down syndrome in the kitchen and teaching them how to eat right are both incredibly difficult and often dismissed tasks for busy parents. This is the void that the BUDS Cooking and Nutrition Class aims to fulfill.
In preparation for the course, I came to find that many individuals with down syndrome suffer from dietary ailments, such as celiac disease and diabetes. This added an extra challenge to my course, as I had two students with celiac disease that were unable to eat wheat and other foods containing gluten. I was able to overcome this challenge by including recipes that were entirely gluten-free and diabetic-friendly.
The BUDS Cooking and Nutrition course runs for ten weeks total and is currently in its second round. Each class has a theme and includes a brief nutrition lesson and a cooking demo. The current group participating in the course is of the young adult age range. Many of them have grown to enjoy cooking, understand the importance of healthy living, and have an open mind and imagination when it comes to trying new foods and making snacks or meals.