When Dallington man Grant Prier's health took a turn for the worse, life went from being on top of the world to rock bottom but cooking classes brought back his smile.
The former businessman has spent the last couple of years in and out of hospital after suffering from strokes and a serious heart condition.
It was during a stay at Burwood Hospital's Brain Injury Rehab Unit when a social worker introduced him to Senior Chef: Cooking Classes for Older Adults programme and suggested he try it once he was discharged.
"I'm in the category that often falls through the gaps in terms of being eligible for various programmes, so it was really great to be able to do Senior Chef," Grant says.
He says Senior Chef has taught him how to cook healthier, more nutritious meals as well as introduced him to some new friends.
"We keep in touch and will be meeting every six weeks in the New Year."
Cyciliah Muchirahondo from St Albans says she was referred to Senior Chef as part of Green Prescriptions to help manage her weight.
"I was gaining a lot of weight. Now I exercise and am better at cooking to be able to eat healthy. I know how to make things that are healthy. I like dessert but now I can make a good one – a healthy one," she says.
Cyciliah who immigrated to Christchurch from Zimbabwe says she also has more confidence shopping and getting out in the community.
"There's been a very big change; I have a lot more confidence in cooking and I've also got many new friends from Senior Chef. Before I would just go to work and go home, now I go out a lot more."
Nicolas Warren says Senior Chef has wide ranging health benefits from meeting new friends to eating better.
"You're never too old to learn something new."
Hillmorton resident Margaret James agrees, saying she joined Senior Chef to learn how to cook for one after her husband died.
"I've learned an incredible amount… lots of little things; shopping for certain ingredients – if you've got them in your cupboard then you're more likely to cook them. I am making more effort."
Aranui resident Selwyn Cossar says Senior Chef has had wonderful benefits.
"It's opened up a whole new cooking life for me. I'm in the kitchen all the time now. It's made a huge difference to my life."
Shirley knows just how well it can change a person's life.
"I did the course about two years ago and that's where I met my man friend, Shirley says.
"We've been together one year and nine months."
Senior Chef: Cooking Classes for Older Adults were winners of the Improved Health and Equity for Populations category at this year's Quality Improvement and Innovation Awards.
Katy Keogh, CDHB Project Nutritionist, Healthy Eating, Healthy Ageing Project, says since the launch of the programme in 2010, 64 courses (with 639 participants) have been delivered throughout Canterbury from Ashburton to Kaikoura including many locations around the city and in rural areas.
"There has been overwhelming interest from other regions and to date the programme is well established in Blenheim, Central Otago, West Coast, Timaru, and Hawkes Bay," Katy says.
"Many other areas nationwide have expressed interest or are trying to get the programme started in their region including Rotorua, Tauranga, Kapiti Coast, Southland and Auckland. The project team assists others to get it started in regions nationwide."
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