Last year, CRYP started a fifth internship track in response to teens who were asking for a dedicated cooking curriculum. The program has been so popular, the nonprofit youth organization has gone a step farther and is introducing a special cooking class for 4- to 12-year-olds at The Main.

Cooking classes begin on Mar. 19 and will take place every Tuesday until Apr. 30. Students will be eligible to earn incentives each month, provided they attend three classes in March and four classes in April. (PLEASE NOTE: This class originally was due to begin on Mar. 14 and run on Thursdays. Since the first week of class was pushed back a week due to rescheduling Passion for Fashion, CRYP opted to start on a Tuesday and continue with Tuesdays. That way, the class will finish in April as planned.)

“To keep things manageable for these younger children, we’re focusing on cook-free, bake-free, mess-free menu items,” says Jerica Widow, youth programs director. “On the first day, the kids will be putting together peanut butter and traditional jam sandwiches, using both plum and chokecherry jellies that we’ve made right here at CRYP.”

In the following classes, students will make turkey BLT pinwheels, frozen-fruit parfaits, cheesecake mini-sandwiches, apple and peanut butter stackers, veggie pinwheels, and “energy bites” that are made with oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chips and honey.

“The incentives will give the kids something to work toward each month,” Widow says. “And along the way, they’ll learn how to make healthy snacks with nutritious foods, learn how to make positive choices, talk about how good nutrition affects our bodies, and of course have fun with friends.

“As with all of our youth programs, wellness lies at the heart of this initiative,” she continues. “Not only are we engaging our children and giving them a safe, positive place to spend time after school, we’re providing valuable opportunities to learn new skills—and look at food in a new way.”

To stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@waniyetuwowapi).

The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.