Ascot Vale Heights School Visit

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

On a slightly chilly Friday in May, Stephanie Alexander AO, Coles Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Ronson, and Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation CEO Josephene Duffy, along with the Coles marketing leadership team, paid a visit to Ascot Vale Heights School in Melbourne’s west.

This prep to 12 school prepares young people with a cognitive disability to reach their full potential and become active and engaged citizens. The kitchen garden program is integral to this journey and is integrated into all year levels and enjoyed by all.

"The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program is a game-changer for students and staff. It delivers hands-on learning in every aspect of the program and can influence and change the way our students think about food and its health benefits," says Ascot Vale Heights School principal Colin Schot, going on to say: "What a pleasure it was for the students and staff to host key personnel from Coles and the Kitchen Garden Program at the school. The students were able to showcase their engagement, skills and abilities in working in the kitchen and in the garden. The partnership of Coles and Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation is a dynamic opportunity to improve the life and health of students in schools and influence what and how they eat as they move into adulthood."

The day began with tours of the school by school leaders Simon, David, Amy, Peter, Gabby and Ivy. The visitors learnt about the school’s VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) course which includes a weekly canteen run by the students, toured their wonderful kitchens and art rooms, admiring the myriad gorgeous paintings around the building.

The groups then commenced their kitchen garden class! The kitchen group made delicious pinwheels with year 4, 5 and 6 classes, while the garden group joined Prep/Year 1/2 classes to experience watering the garden with some nutritious worm wee, cleaning out the chicken coop and gathering eggs.

For the team from Coles it was a great opportunity to see how the program is brought to life. According to Lisa Ronson, Coles Chief Marketing Officer: “Coles was honoured to be invited to Ascot Vale Heights School and meet the wonderful students and teachers who are so passionate about the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation program. Our partnership with the Foundation is an important part of Coles’ purpose to sustainably feed all Australians and help them lead healthier and happier lives. We love to help teach children the importance of enjoying food and learning how it’s grown, harvested and prepared. This is such an important part of education and we are thrilled to help deliver it to schools and early learning centres across the country.”

It was wonderful to see the children come to life as they guided the Coles team and myself through the school. Ascot Vale Heights is an incredible example of how all schools no matter their age groups or size can make a kitchen garden program part of school life

– Stephanie Alexander AO

The VCAL students and Coles are planning more exciting activities later in the year to inspire the confidence and skills for the students next big journey: beyond school.

Big thanks to year 12 student Daniel for taking photos on the day  including the ones in this story – we think he has a great photography career in his future.

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