Sis­ters set up cook­ing class for the deaf


Two Auck­land sis­ters are help­ing deaf peo­ple liv­ing in iso­la­tion con­nect with oth­ers through a cook­ing class.

Mt Eden res­i­dent Yolanda Sut­ton, 49, be­gan the cook­ing class five years ago with her pro­foundly deaf sis­ter Natasha Jumelet from Mt Roskill af­ter they formed the Deaf Well­be­ing Club.

Hav­ing grown up know­ing the chal­lenges deaf peo­ple face in so­ci­ety, the sis­ters thought the cook­ing classes could help oth­ers in the com­mu­nity.

‘‘Natasha was work­ing as a sup­port worker at the time and she would talk about her con­cerns for this group of deaf peo­ple who also suf­fered from Men­tal Health is­sues,’’ Sut­ton said.

‘‘They all had very lit­tle so­cial con­tact and led ex­tremely iso­lated lives. One her clients in their 40s men­tioned they only ate fish fin­gers and oven chips be­cause no one had ever taught her how to cook.’’

The monthly cook­ing classes were held at Sut­ton’s home but as word got out, they had to hire a venue to num­bers.

Deaf peo­ple from all over Auck­land at­tend, in­clud­ing those in south and west Auck­land, and as far as Whangarei.

‘‘Our group is so im­por­tant to its mem­bers, for many we are the only so­cial con­tact they have. And ac­com­mo­date the they en­joy it - they en­joy be­ing taught recipes through sign lan­guage and shown how to cook these meals. It’s the best part of their month.’’

The club has grown from be­ing just a cook­ing class. They also run ed­u­ca­tional trips and last year, a group hol­i­day to Welling­ton.

‘‘For most of them, it was the first time they’ve ever been on a hol­i­day, let alone on a plane and it was so en­cour­ag­ing to be a part of that ex­pe­ri­ence with them,’’ Sut­ton said.

In Fe­bru­ary, the club be­came an in­cor­po­rated so­ci­ety - the Deaf Well­be­ing So­ci­ety, and could fi­nally ap­ply fund­ing.

While their ap­pli­ca­tions for fund­ings have not been suc­cess­ful as yet, the sis­ters are de­ter­mined not to give up.

‘‘Be­ing deaf is a hor­ren­dous hand­i­cap and when you com­bine that with men­tal health, it can seem over­bear­ing,’’ Jumelet said. for grants and

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