When it comes to expressing and measuring the educational, personal, social, and vocational value of filming Chase’s Cooking Show, there really isn’t enough that can be said about it. Given Chase’s particular challenges and gifts, I knew very early on that he isn’t wired for typical job occupations. Life dealt him a few challenges, yet Chase was also given some profound gifts. Chase is a visionary, with a deep and genuine love for people and the good in this world. He is a leader, and wants everyone to be happy and healthy; to treat each other with kindness; and have fun. This is the core of who he is, and the springboard from which all of his ideas and aspirations originate.
Chase’s Cooking Show is simultaneously an expression of who he is, and a venue through which he is able to grow and refine who he is. He is exploring and fulfilling a dream, while stretching himself in numerous ways:
Planning and Practice / Bringing a Dream to Life – The first thing Chase learned, was that in order to Make It Happen in the way in which he was envisioning his show, he can’t just hop into the kitchen, grab a camera, and start filming. There are essential and definite steps that he has to take. Each episode of the show begins with a recipe idea that Chase wants to try out. He must then purchase the ingredients, and practice the recipe to see how it works, and to familiarize himself with the steps and utensils so that he knows what he’s doing when he gets in front of the camera. We then have to schedule the film crew, practice a simple script, and on film day, everyone must do their parts.
Verbal Communication – For Chase, speech is an ongoing and evolving skill that he works to perfect daily. Organizing his thoughts, not speaking too quickly, volume control, tone, inflection, articulation, and getting the muscles to form the words that his mind wants to express, requires continuous and concentrated effort.
Multi-Tasking – Remembering his lines and the recipes (ingredients, measurements, order of the steps, etc.); coordinating gestures, tone, and expressions, along with the lines; when to look at the camera; and performing all those fine motor tasks. For Chase, this is an intensive mind and body endeavor.
Science and Math – Cooking is basically chemistry lessons using food. Chase is learning that combining specific ingredients, in specific amounts, using specific temperatures, produces specific results. Cooking requires Chase to work with fractions, weights, measures, temperatures and increments of time. And as time goes by, he is becoming more involved in the mathematics of budgeting and purchasing the food for his recipes.
Fine Motor Skills – Most of us can probably tear open a sealed package of crackers, tie apron strings, handle utensils, and cut with a knife without too much thought or effort. However, one of the symptoms of Chase’s diagnosis, is that his fine motor skills are impaired - the blood flow and the messages from the brain to those muscles are lacking, so it takes greater effort on his part to get his muscles to co-operate with his mind. And sometimes he has to come up with alternate ways to make a task or tool more comfortable for himself. No one knows how much of this condition will correct itself with time and as Chase matures physically. But in the meantime, he doesn’t let the challenge stop him from doing what he wants to do.
Patience (with Self and Others), and Perseverance – Chase is learning the necessary and sometimes frustrating lessons of those twin virtues, patience and perseverance. Filming can often require several takes as he gets the rhythm and co-ordination of the various tasks just right. There is also waiting, while the crew sets-up various angles and lighting. Once filming is done, then there’s more waiting, as it usually takes a couple of weeks before the episode is edited and ready for posting. Chase is learning that worthwhile things, very often take more time and effort to accomplish than what we wish.
Teamwork, Respect, Responsibility – The first several episodes of Chase’s Cooking Show, were just Chase in front of the camera, and me wearing all the hats and doing all the jobs behind the camera. But I knew that long term, for the show to evolve and as the CNYF vision grew, we needed a professional film crew, director, and acting coach to come on board with us. How all of that came to be is a great story for another time. For now, suffice it to say, that key people entered our lives at just the right time. Filming Chase’s Cooking Show makes him a part of a team. And in order for the team to succeed and achieve the desired goal, everyone has to do their part to the very best of their abilities. Like everyone else on the team, he has to be on time; be prepared; be focused and available when the camera is ready to roll; have a positive, can-do attitude; and stick with the job until it’s done. He’s also starting to become more aware of the business end of things - the monetary investment of making it happen, and the value of timing.
Self-Worth and Confidence - Being supported in this endeavor, lets Chase know that who he is and what he cares about have significance, and matter to others. He learns that if he speaks up, is persistent, and willing to do his part, then he can make things happen.
This list of skills and requirements would be daunting for many “typical” adults! So one can appreciate that even though Chase’s Cooking Show is something Chase wants to do and has fun doing, it is still a tremendous amount of work for him – it’s like running the New York Marathon, and at the end of filming, while he is enjoying the feeling of accomplishment, he is also tired and needs some down-time. So we pace ourselves. We film no more than once a month, which allows him to focus on school work, and his other interests and activities. And it allows him to maintain his enthusiasm and fuel up for the next episode.