Students earn international Duke of Edinburgh award

Youth program participants gain confidence through service and adventure

Founded by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, also known as Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program recently bestowed recognition upon three Brooks Secondary School students.

At a City of Powell River council meeting on Thursday, June 15, mayor Dave Formosa presented Duke of Edinburgh’s Award pins to Grayce Hilton, who received the silver level, and Catherine Chinn and Erinn Hobson, who were awarded bronze in the international program.

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Since its inception in 1956 as a program exclusive to young boys, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award now allows young men and women to design and achieve their own journey of self-discovery. Introduced in Canada in 1963, the program has involved more than 500,000 Canadians between the ages of 14 and 24. Due to its self-directed format, each participant has a distinct experience and outcome.

“It means I have worked really hard to go out from what I’m normally comfortable with to do many activities I’ve never done before,” said Chinn.

Chinn said the payoff was life-changing due to the skills she learned and the increased self-confidence she came away with from activities such as backpacking and kayaking.

“It was my first time doing that and it was really fun,” said Chinn.

Participants choose from four components and complete their own goals in educational experiences outside of the classroom. Bronze and silver levels last six months in duration and include physical activity, volunteerism, learning a new skill and then the planning, preparing and undertaking of an adventurous journey.

“The fact that I can say I have the bronze level of the Duke of Edinburgh is pretty cool,” said Chinn. “I’m quite proud to say that.”

Chinn wants to continue in the program and begin working on her silver level, then up to gold. Hobson hopes to achieve the same result after completing her bronze level with Chinn.

“Except we did different skills, different physical activities and different service projects,” said Hobson.

Hilton plans to stop after receiving her silver-level pin.

“It was amazing to have gotten this far,” said Hilton, who picked up new skills in typing and photography. She completed her adventurous program component through School District 47’s Leadership Ecology Adventure Program (LEAP).

School district coordinator for outdoor and ecological learning Ryan Barfoot said the leadership program has been involved with the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program since LEAP began 11 years ago.

“We’ve always been a preferred delivery program for the adventurous journey program,” said Barfoot. “We get kids from all over the place calling. It’s difficult for them to find supportive ways to do their adventurous journeys and LEAP offers that for them.”

According to Hobson, the service part of the award program is of utmost importance and she chose to do her volunteering with Girl Guides of Canada. All three award recipients have been involved with Girl Guides.

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