Diagnosed with autism when she was a toddler, Hannah, 14, refused to go to school or even leave the house. Her mother tried everything to get Hannah to attend school, but the teen became even more isolated and withdrawn.

Hannah’s mother began attending the Cooking with North Coast Community Services (NCCS) program in Prince Rupert and invited Hannah to come along. Meeting every Friday night, the group prepares a meal together while the younger children are looked after on the other side of the room.

At first, Hannah just wanted to cuddle the babies instead of helping prepare or clean up after the meal. With the urging of Infant Development Consultant, Sarah Browne, Hannah began cleaning up, and eventually came to enjoy helping chop vegetables, cooking and socializing with the group.

Hannah’s mother came home from work one day and found Hannah cooking one of the meals she learned from the program. As Hannah became more involved in the community kitchen, her confidence soared, and she began attending school again. Her mother is grateful, and credits the program with giving Hannah a skill she can call her own as well as a safe place to open up and be herself.

Your donations to United Way give kids like Hannah the opportunities they deserve to become successful adults. We need your help to create safe spaces and inspire confidence in youth who are struggling in communities all over Northern BC.