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cooking capable | WPDE

16-year-old Michaela “Ivy” Prince from Loris, South Carolina launched her non-profit ‘Cooking Capable’ in 2023.

The program is a series of workshops specifically designed to teach young adults who may need a little assistance with everyday tasks, how to make simple and nutritious meals.

“You never know what you’re capable of until given the chance to try,” Ivy Prince, founder and CEO of Cooking Capable, said.

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Prince is proving that everyone, no matter what everyday obstacles one may face, is capable of cooking if given the opportunity to try.

With the help of a team of volunteers and a few grants through the local 4-H club, she’s giving one community a safe and welcoming space to experiment in the kitchen.

“It teaches our special needs youth how to make nutritious meals which helps them in their lives to live healthier, happier lives. It also shows people that those in the special needs community aren’t incapable,” she said.

Prince said those with special needs are typically pushed to the back and are seen as less.

However, Cooking Capable proves that they are indeed competent, someone just needs to teach them the skills.

“They’re not incapable, and they shouldn’t be pushed to the back. They shouldn’t be seen as less of. Proving that they can do something, you just have to give them the skills, you have to teach them. Because some people already view it as they’re incapable, they can’t do it, nobody’s willing to teach. So, that’s why it’s important, and that’s why we do Cooking Capable,” she said.

It’s said good food brings good people together, and Prince said her family is what motivated her to concoct the program.

“I love food and I love cooking. And I come from a family with special needs. I wanted to create a place where they know they’re welcome and loved and appreciated and valued. My older sister, who I like to cook with a lot, she’s on the autism spectrum. That’s kind of why she’s helped create this too,” she said.

The free workshops usually have around 10 participants, and Prince said each participant is allowed to bring a buddy along with them.

She said sugar-free lemonade is just one of the many delicious recipes she’s passed along to others.

Prince added that family is one of her main values, and her workshops are family-oriented.

“Usually we welcome everyone, we go over names, make sure they feel comfortable in the space. We go over safety equipment, how to act in a kitchen, how to make sure you’re safe. We point out where our first-aid kit is and we have a sensory room for those who get overstimulated,” Ivy said.

Prince said she was on a karate team, and through her own firsthand experience learned the importance of a nutritious meal.

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“I noticed not only my body felt more alive, but my brain. I remember I was so foggy before and it started to get better. I was able to think clearly, I was able to control my emotions better. I was able to live a happier life, and I think that’s why it’s so important because you are what you eat,” she said.

Prince just recently returned from Atlanta, where she won a $10,000 grant from the National Society of High School Scholars.

At that conference, she gave a five-minute presentation about Cooking Capable and answered questions from both a panel of judges and the audience.

In addition to being a state representative for Be Strong, a club that focuses on mental health advocacy and helping those in crisis, Prince also works at a pizza shop.

Prince’s mom, Jennifer, said everything Ivy makes from her personal job goes right back into Cooking Capable.

Ivy’s passion for creating a welcoming environment inside the kitchen has proven successful.

She shared a story of one young cook who came to one of her workshops.

She said the boy didn’t eat broccoli, and added that broccoli salad was on the menu on that particular day.

Prince said by the end of her program, that student went back for seconds.

Ivy said the positive feedback she’s received from participants who’ve attended a Cooking Capable workshop is the best part.

“He would say he doesn’t cook at home, and he was here for the food. By the end, he was helping, and you could tell he was proud. Like, he made that food. And every single one of those kids were like, ‘This food is so amazing!’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, because you made it!’ And you could just see they were so happy, they were smiling, and they were so proud of themselves,” she said.

As for what’s next for Prince, she’s stirring up some big dreams.

“My biggest dream is to go globally – having workshops all across the world. In 10-20 years, I hope to have at least one workshop happening per year in each state and territory in the U.S.,” she said.

Another aspiration of hers is to one day have her own cookbook.

“I want to be able to have a cookbook that’s specifically catered to those with reading disabilities or intellectual disabilities so that it’s bigger print for those who have trouble reading smaller words, it’s easier to read, and I want to make sure it’s accessible to everyone,” she said.

Prince said she’s teamed up with the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach to teach a class, but they’re still working out a date.

She said Clemson has also reached out to her about coming in to teach a class in the future.

Her next workshop will be held on January 30th. Click here for more details about that event.

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