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Kemira Kapers open for business

Carer Support Connectedness Independence Residential

Kemira at IRT Kanahooka is now home to Kemira Kapers – a  restaurant project run by the community’s young adults.

03 September 2021
Pictured in Kemira's vegetable garden are the community's young adults.
“It’s about coming together and learning together.”

Carrie Dickinson
Kemira Support Coordinator

The young adults at Kemira at IRT Kanahooka are very proud of their new venture – a restaurant called Kemira Kapers where they prepare and serve lunch for their parent carers.

Kemira Support Coordinator Carrie Dickinson says the idea for the restaurant, which opened in late May, was an opportunity for Kemira’s young adults to use their skills and to bring Kemira’s residents together on a regular basis.

“It’s about coming together and learning together,” she says.

Before the most recent COVID-19 lockdown, the young adults would get together every six weeks to cook Sunday lunch for their parent carers.  They have a process to follow – from selecting a menu, to shopping for the meal with a carer, preparing and serving the meal.

“Each young adult has a different job, depending on the colour they have been allocated,” explains Carrie. “For example, if a young adult is allocated the colour yellow they are responsible for the menu selection.”

Carrie says other roles on the restaurant days include waiting on tables and being a team leader. “In the beginning the carers are more involved but as time goes on, we expect the carers to be able to sit back more.”

Kemira at IRT Kanahooka resident Narelle Harrington putting her service skills on show.

The idea for the restaurant came out of Kemira’s women’s circle – where the carers come together with Carrie to discuss ideas for the community. “They came up with the restaurant name and logo, which is a tree that represents growth and a rainbow of vegetables, as well as having hats and aprons.”

The young adults take part in a gym program and afterwards learn about preparing healthy snacks and smoothies. “So the restaurant supports what they are learning too,” says Carrie.

The Kemira community has been very resourceful in getting the project up and running – the aprons and hats were paid for by residents collecting and cashing in recyclable bottles.

“Then a friend of one of the families embroidered the aprons and hats,” says Carrie. “To pay for the meal, each family contributes $10.”

There’s a well-established vegetable garden at Kemira and these veggies are used in the meals prepared by the young adults. “I’ve been encouraging them to eat a rainbow of vegetables,” says Carrie. “That’s also reflected in the [restaurant] logo too.”

Kemira at IRT Kanahooka opened in 2016 and is a purpose-built community for people with intellectual disability and their parent carers. The project was the result of IRT’s ground-breaking partnership with disability providers Greenacres, Interchange Illawarra and Community Gateway.

Currently, there are 16 residents at Kemira and the community is very much involved in volunteering and other community-minded projects, like making happy boxes for women in remote communities. “We do a lot together,” says Carrie. “They are an amazing group of people.”

Once COVID restrictions are lifted, the young are adults are looking forward to getting back into the kitchen.

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