MasterChef Junior and the Power of Kids by Maggie Arthur

Today, we’re bringing you a blog from Maggie Arthur, an After School Coach and MSW Candidate at UIC about one of her recent interactions with her girls!

20151103_164907I haven’t owned a TV in years. This hadn’t been a problem until I began coaching 60 very media savvy elementary school girls. The girls love telling me about the music, movies and TV shows they’re into almost as much as they love collectively rolling their eyes at me when I ask them to explain what they’re talking about. However, an exchange I had with a few of my Piccolo Elementary School girls a few weeks ago made me rethink TV time.

At the end of Tuesday After School programming, I was chatting with a few remaining stragglers as they gathered their things to leave. When I asked what their plans were for the rest of the night, Aniya’s eyes got wide as she told me she couldn’t wait to watch MasterChef Junior because tonight was kid chefs versus adult chefs. The other two chimed in; they followed the show too and were just as anxious to get home to tune in. I asked the three of them who they thought would win, but they couldn’t decide. I narrowed it down: “Do you think the kids will win or the adults?” They gave me their signature, “Are you kidding me, Coach Maggie?” look and assured me that of course the kids were going to win. Yvonne then said, “Kids are powerful.” We all agreed. She stuck the landing with, “Especially girl kids.”

masterchef-junior-with ramsay

MasterChef Junior is a spin on Gordon Ramsey’s famed high-energy cooking reality show, MasterChef. Because of the celebrity chef’s penchant for making his contestants cry, the show had quite a bit of buzz. However, MasterChef Junior is compelling both because of the nine-year-olds standing on boxes to reach their burners, but also because Ramsey offers genuine encouragement and guidance to the mini-chefs who continually blow all expectations way out of the water.

Addison Osta Smith (from River Forest!) was both the first girl and the youngest competitor to win

At Girls in the Game, we talk daily about healthy lifestyle choices, and many of those choices center around food. Much of our curriculum encourages girls to reconsider dinner time, not unlike MasterChef Junior. Ramsey has said he does not make the show in order to staff his next generation of restaurants. Instead, his series aims to inspire young people and their parents to reconsider the choices they make about food. Moreover, in an interview for Buzzfeed, Season 3 judge and co-owner of Eataly, Joe Bastianich said, “We think that this is the cure for food-related issues in our society… knowing about the food, how to cook it, how to source it, how to manage it, is a very positive message that these kids launch for everyone else.”

Girls in the Game has been my first exposure to direct practice with children. I’ve certainly had my moments of self-doubt and a few strike outs while coaching After School. However, that conversation with those girls really made me believe in what Girls in the Game is working to achieve; developing healthy, happy, successful young women.


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