The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will broaden a young person’s future prospects, says 15-year-old Wanstead resident Marnie McPartland, who completed her Silver Award last month
Waking up to the gentle reproach of the wood pigeons’ call and the fresh scent of dew covering the fields, I could almost forget the intensity of the previous day of walking. I am on my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award training expedition, trekking across the Peak District during the day and pitching tents in farmers’ fields for the nights. The weather is searingly hot, and it seems every hill just leads on to another; a trail of false summits leaving us exhausted. The best time of day is the end, when we cook dinner on tiny gas stoves and play cards as the sun sets behind us in a glory of colour.
Does this sound like something for you? Do you yearn for the rolling hills and fresh air of the British countryside and national parks? Are you a motivated and active young person who wants to take on new challenges and broaden their horizons? Then I urge you to consider signing up for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. This involves three stages: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each consists of volunteering, physical, skills and expedition sections, with increasing length and difficulty as you progress up the levels. Each section is designed to improve a young person’s skill set.
Volunteering in a nursery or food bank allows young people to gain perspective, empathy and teaches the value of hard work, whilst learning a new skill, such as a musical instrument or knitting, encourages perseverance and attention to detail. The feeling of reward and achievement which comes with completing the award can be matched only by the enjoyment of the experience. Strengthening bonds with others, improving your sense of teamwork and community, and demonstrating your resilience and perseverance to prospective universities and employers are just some of the benefits of completing the scheme.
The award also provides an assigned space for you to pursue any activity you are interested in but never quite got around to doing. Do you want to join a local hockey team, take up the flute which you gave up three years ago, or help out at your town’s charity shop at the weekend? The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award offers a safe space for you to improve your fitness, self-discipline and commitment. Although you may be daunted by the situation regarding the pandemic, there are still many opportunities available to allow any young person to gain experience and skills, which will widen their perspective and broaden their future prospects.
For me, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme encouraged me to reflect on my interests and escape my comfort zone. Ultimately, I would wholeheartedly recommend the award to anyone aged between 14 and 24 who wants to meet new people and give back to their community.
For more information on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, visit dofe.org