Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.            

Ewa Anti-crime Initiative Leads To Cooking Course For Youths

Police officer Micah Nakagawa (left) and HPD Cpl. Art Takamiya (front) have the teens’ full attention at last year’s culinary course. Photo courtesy of Gale Braceros.

For the past 10 years, the Ewa Weed and Seed program has been cooking up different ways to keep keiki engaged in positive activities.

And every summer, it takes that duty quite literally through its Culinary Arts Summer Program. Classes run from June 6 to July 25, meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Campbell High School.

The program was created after a survey found cooking to be a popular interest among area youths. The class is designed to teach them practical skills, and also gives students the opportunity to earn one-half credit toward their graduation requirements. Beyond that, the class also could lead to a career in the culinary arts.

Students will learn basic cooking skills, sanitation rules and how to prepare inexpensive, healthy meals. Topics include various types of cuisine, such as Italian, American, Korean, Filipino and Thai dishes.

Police officers Art Takamiya and Mike Dela Cruz, who have been leading the program for the past two years, will teach the 2013 course.

“We see a tremendous growth and confidence,” program director Gale Braceros said of past participants.

“Many students that participate in this program enjoy cooking and realize that cooking is something they would like to continue,” Braceros said, adding that a number of students have gone on to work in Campbell’s food service program. “Students report back that they prepare meals for their families now and also have found jobs in the restaurant business.”

Being supported by the James and Abigail Campbell Family Foundation, Hawaiian Electric Co., Hawaii Gas, Hawaii Community Foundation and Y. Hata & Co., the culinary arts program remains free to students.

Organized by the U.S. Justice Department and Ewa Beach residents, the Weed and Seed program aims to reduce crime by coordinating various positive activities within the community.

Registration for the Culinary Arts Summer Program is accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and deadline is May 24.

There only are 25 spaces available, with first priority going to Campbell High students. To request an application, email gbraceros@ymcahonolulu.org or call 689-4182, ext. 225.