Health Special Needs

A First Place Transition Academy student learns to cook at his apartment. The First Place Transition Academy, operated by Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, is a two-year program designed to transition young adults with autism to living independently. The Sprouts Kitchen Network will offer cooking courses at First Place–Phoenix when it is completed in spring 2018.

Thanks to seed funding from a Phoenix-based natural and organic food store chain, adults with autism and other neuro-diversities will be able to take cooking classes to help them eat healthy.

Throught its Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, Sprouts Farmers Market awarded a $10,000 grant to First Place AZ, providing funding for a collection of “Cook Healthy” courses, according to a press release.

The Sprouts Kitchen Network will offer the cooking courses at the First Place–Phoenix culinary teaching kitchens. The kitchens are part of the First Place apartments, which provide people with autism and neuro-diversities an opportunity to live independently. The nonprofit First Place AZ broke ground on First Place–Phoenix in December 2016. The $15 million property is set open in spring 2018.

“Learning proper nutrition is important to us all,” said Denise D. Resnik, First Place founder, president and CEO in a press release. “Part of living independently involves learning how to make smart food choices and prepare nourishing meals.

“We’re grateful to the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation for allowing us to capture and reinforce these important life-skills lessons, adding another valued dimension to community life at First Place–Phoenix.”

First Place AZ is developing four culinary teaching kitchens at First Place–Phoenix, which will also include a raised courtyard garden where residents can plant and care for herbs and vegetables.

The grant from the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation covers Phase 1 of the project, the creation of the “First to the Table” video concept and prototypes that will be released this summer.

Cheryl Najafi — a lifestyle expert, New York Times best-selling author and creator of the recipe website Everyday Dishes — is lending her expertise to the Sprouts Kitchen Network. The Sprouts Kitchen Network will feature videos and recipes from Najafi, along with new films created at First Place–Phoenix that involve future residents.

“We’re thrilled to see First Place putting their neighborhood grant funds to use in such a creative and impactful way,” said Lyndsey Waugh, executive director of the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation in a press release. “Learning how to prepare healthy meals gives young adults with autism and other unique abilities the skills necessary to make healthier food choices and to experience the rewards of cooking.” JN

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