Two GNS students have challenged themselves and each earned a Duke of Edinburgh award. The award is a global youth leadership and empowerment framework, where youth are not just working to earn an award, but are celebrated for developing and achieving goals throughout the process. Eliza Baines earned the Duke of Edinburgh gold level, while Callum Robertson earned the Duke of Edinburgh bronze level.
There are three levels for the award: bronze, silver and gold. Each level has four components that are required (physical recreation, service, skill development and adventurous journey). Within the gold level, there is an added ‘Gold Project’ to complete.
Callum said being able to finish the requirements for the Duke of Edinburgh has been an amazing experience and he’s glad he did it.
“My Duke of Edinburgh journey was challenging and rewarding,” he explained. “I focused on hiking the Juan de Fuca trail and swimming, both of these activities are ones I enjoy…I’m grateful for everything I learned and achieved while completing the Duke of Edinburgh program.”
To complete the required components, Callum went swimming each week for physical recreation, helped in the technical booth at school for his skill development, assisted at the Gryphon Door for service, and hiked the Juan de Fuca trail.
“I achieved success in all the areas by planning my activities and focusing on things I enjoy, like outdoor activities, swimming and community service,” he said.
Eliza, who earned gold this year, has been able to complete all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and she says it feels great to have been able to challenge herself.
“It’s an award I’ve been working on for four years now, and it has challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and has allowed me to gain recognition for my activities,” she remarked.
Eliza said she appreciated completing the levels in the Duke of Edinburgh Award because while high school can be consuming and rigorous at times, this has given her a more balanced lifestyle.
“It has given me opportunities to focus on activities outside of the classroom,” she said. “Throughout my journey with the Duke of Ed Award, I participated in field hockey, basketball, and soccer for physical recreation. I developed my cooking, piano and artistic skills, and I volunteered weekly at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Social Support. For my adventurous journeys, I went snow camping in Strathcona Park, sailed around the Gulf Islands, hiked the Juan De Fuca trail and kayaked the Broken Islands. Finally, for my Gold Project, I went to Sri Lanka for a Round Square Big Build Trip.”
Eliza and two other Grade 12 friends travelled to Sri Lanka on the Round Square Big Build Trip, where they were joined by 50 students from 25 different countries. Over 10 days, they worked hard to build a school with a playground and a cricket pitch for the Wasgamuwa community.
“It was hard work in the heat concreting, laying bricks and slashing grass, but with our powerful and determined team, we were able to accomplish our goals,” said said. “What was unique about this Round Square Trip was that it was facilitated by Flooglebinder, a travel and sustainability company. So, throughout the trip, we had many presentations and discussions about environmental conservation and the role we play in it. I loved this aspect of the trip as it inspired me to implement an environmental initiative called Ecobricks in our GNS school community.”
Eliza encourages all students to look into the Duke of Edinburgh Award. While it might seem overwhelming at first, she says it’s worth it.
“You will be surprised by how much of the award you’re already completing in your everyday life,” she said. “The Duke of Edinburgh Award looks great on resumes, scholarships and university applications as it is internationally recognized. Whether applying for post-secondary or about to enter the workforce, the Award shows commitment and achievement, as well as dedication to a variety of activities. It also allows you to talk about yourself and your passions outside of your formal education. As well, it’s not too late to start! Any young adult from the ages of 14-24 is eligible to begin the award.”
There are still ways you can pursue the award during the pandemic. If you are interested in the Duke of Edinburgh Award, please contact Ms. Patty Wells firstname.lastname@example.org.