Horizon4Girls expands programs

Last year when Horizons4Girls Founder Char Pachniak and Plymouth Coordinator Linda Ledbeter met with Plymouth Counselors they had no idea of the demand there might be for the program.

Over the past three years, the Horizons4Girls program has mentored middle and high school female students throughout Sheboygan County and now its has extended an invitation to Plymouth students to participate in the program.

Students often referred to as “at risk” can have many issues they deal with, including abuse, neglect, bullying, grief, poverty, academic challenges, lack of social skills and many others.

The goal of Horizons4Girls is to mentor each student providing a one-on-one relationship with often more than one screened and trained mentor.

This means the demand is significant for volunteer mentors.

Mentors are screened and trained and then work weekly or monthly with students in various group settings.

The ultimate goal for each student is high school graduation with a life plan for the next five years.

Often immediate goals for each student are learning communication skills, study/life skills and career exploration.

One element of that mentoring includes a weekly program that uses instructional resources through a national initiative called Cooking Matters.

Each Thursday the students are gathered in the kitchen at First Congregational Church cooking.

Cooking Matters is part of Share Our Strengths, No Kid Hungry and the belief that a family of four can be fed using nourishing, tasty food for $10, but a clear understanding of resources must be understood and used.

Horizons4Girls’ Cooking Matters program includes several phases.

The first is working with the girls weekly in cooking two food items often using foods they have not used before.

These include fruit smoothies, made in the kitchen using plain yogurt and fresh fruit. Sandwich roll ups using whole wheat tortillas, avocado and turkey.

Each recipe from Cooking Matters gives a label listing the nutritional value of that particular item.

Our next phase will be for each student to invite an adult from home, either mom, grandma, dad or a guardian to do a field trip to the grocery store and some comparison shopping.

Tips such as grating the cheese yourself instead of buying already grated cheese, or how some store brands are less expensive and just as nutritious are shared.

This is done over several weeks, always rewarding each family with a $10 food gift card and asking for a report back about a new recipe they have tried.

Phase three is a community garden that the students are planting, maintaining and harvesting this summer/fall.

From this they will better understand where food comes from and will learn how to grow and cook a variety of items.

They will learn canning and freezing and will sell some items at the Farmer’s Market, as well as potentially donate some items to other needy families.

“When we come to First Congregational Church after school and a student goes to the kitchen and grabs a tortilla, some peanut butter and some raisins and makes a roll up instead of asking that we stop and buy a bag of Cheetos or go thru the drive thru at a fast food restaurant, we know we are changing habits to a healthier lifestyle,” Pachniak said.

For more information regarding Horizons4Girls programming and volunteer opportunities, contact Char Pachniak at 920-254- 1584 or info@horizons4girls.com

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