Look who’s cookin

Posted 10/18/09

Garrick Scott will joke with you that he’s just a man with two first names. But the 40-year-old from Georgia is more than that. He’s a blind man …

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Look who’s cookin


Garrick Scott will joke with you that he’s just a man with two first names.

But the 40-year-old from Georgia is more than that.

He’s a blind man with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a sense of humor that permeates every room he enters. That includes the kitchen at The Colorado Center for the Blind in Littleton, where his female opponents were preparing a meal for their second annual “Battle of the Breakfast” competition.

“I don’t see any grits here,” Scott said. “And I haven’t tasted any meat yet.”

Learning how to cook is part of the Center’s Home Management program, which teaches students how to live independently.

During the course, students of all ages are trained to cook simple to gourmet meals. They barbecue with charcoal and gas grills, plan dinner parties, learn self-defense, shop at malls, sew, garden and plan outings.

“I believed the most important thing we wanted to accomplish was to teach people that just because they are blind, that does not have to change their expectations for themselves in life,” said Diane McGeorge, founder of the Colorado Center for the Blind.

“The main thing we want to teach is blindness is not the tragedy that often times it is painted to be. In fact, we don’t think it’s a problem at all.”

In order to demonstrate proficiency in home management, students are required to prepare a meal for 15 people, and eventually, 50.

The Battle of the Breakfast competition is designed to give them a practice run.

“They figure if you can do it for 50 people you can certainly do it for yourself,” Scott said.

Home Management is part of the Center’s main program, Independence Training.

It’s a nine-month course, with about 25 people in each session.

Students must be 18 or older, and live in furnished apartments, about five miles from the center.

During these nine months, students learn what Executive Director Julie Deden calls “structured discovery.”

“Traditionally, an instructor is behind the student, telling them what to do,” she said. “In a structured way, we’re going to let people go out and discover the world.”

The first things students learn is how to use public transit, to get from their apartment to the center. Once in classes for the day, the curriculum stresses independent learning and understanding.

Braille and cane travel, business, woodshop and rock climbing are all taught through the center.

“We have a late relative of Lawrence Welk coming for our presentation,” Scott joked trying to intimidate the group of females serving the food at the battle.

The competition is boys versus girls.

Presentation is part of the grade, and though the girls had no “celebrities” up their sleeves, they did make a nice show out of their “Taste of the World” display.

The tables had flags for centerpieces, world music and meals from six different countries.

“The girls are setting the bar pretty high,” said Ken Parks, a judge at the battle.

“Yeah, because it’s more like an army of women against, like 14 guys,” said student A.J. Hovet.

The boys wouldn’t give up their secrets, but Scott and Hovet are convinced they’re such good cooks that they’ll be able to beat the girls “on the fly.”

“Only pipes burst under pressure,” Scott chuckled.

Many of the classes, including home management are taught by instructors who are also blind — a unique aspect of the Littleton center.

“We focus on positive blind role models working along with our students, because we want our students to feel like they can do anything they want,” Deden said. “If students see me taking the bus, they realize they can do it, too.”

There is no hand-holding in any of the work, but instead a push to empower each individual.

“We don’t give people the answers,” Deden said. “We give people the tools to find the answers.”


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