The Help Group’s Advance LA program offers so many amazing opportunities for teens and young adults with social and learning differences. For example, throughout the year, Advance LA offers fun and instructive cooking classes.

This month, Advance LA hosted an “Italian Night” and the students prepared pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and a cannoli dip for dessert; followed the next week by a “Mexican Cuisine Night” wherein students prepared chicken fajitas, cheese enchiladas, guacamole, and churros for dessert. During each class, Chef Emily Waterbury guides the students through prep work in the auditorium. The actual cooking and baking is conducted in the adjacent kitchen.

“Advance LA considers the ability to cook a meal for oneself as an important step in achieving independent adulthood. Preparing and cooking a meal for friends and family is also an opportunity for a young adult to express hospitality, celebration, and social ability. The skills of knowing which food to purchase for a recipe, knowing how to follow a recipe, and knowing how to serve a dish in an appetizing manner are all important for a young person to obtain. Many of Advance LA clients have living on their own as a personal goal so we strive to have our cooking classes teach nutrition, basic food preparation and cooking skills so that our clients can achieve independence,” remarked Jeri Rochman, Director of Community Outreach for Advance LA at The Help Group.

Recent classes have already been a hit with both the young people attending, and their families. One excited parent exclaimed, “I can’t believe my kid ate broccoli! So grateful for this program.” While another parent commented, “My son is really enjoying Advance LA’s cooking classes! And, the food is quite delicious, too.”

What a fantastic, and tasty, learning experience! For more information about Advance LA, please visit: